Overcoats and milk puddings…….


Sir  Tatton Sykes (1826-1913)  was convinced that in order to maintain good health the body should be kept at a constant temperature. In order to achieve this he had a collection of overcoats made for him, each a different colour and all made to fit over each other- much like a Russian doll.  As the day progressed he would shed them one by one if he felt he was getting over heated. Rather than carrying his unwanted layers he just left them wherever they dropped.

Local children were paid a shilling for each coat returned to the house  He had the same arrangement with his trousers as he frequently wore up to three pairs at a time.

In order to cool down quickly he was also in the habit, if taking the train, to take off his boots and socks and sticking his feet out the window to correct his body temperature.

On  his estate in Sledmere, Yorkshire, Sir Tatton forbid the growing of flowers “nasty untidy things”. He carried a walking stick to knock down any flowers he found growing. He advised his tenants, “If you wish to grow flowers, grow cauliflowers”

He also insisted that his tenants should not use their front doors . their doors had to be locked or barred. Going one stage further he had a number of houses built with triompe-lòeil front doors, forcing people to only use the back. He also disliked gravestones, as a result that any members of his family who died during his lifetime are all buried in unmarked graves.

He seemed to have been obsessed with milk pudding, he ate it at least twice a day. He even took his cook with him , whilst travelling in Europe  to ensure a continuous supply of his favourite meal.

When in 1911 Sledmere caught fire, he refused to leave until he had finished his milk pudding. When sufficiently sated he took his favourite armchair out onto the lawn and smoking his pipe watched as the house burnt down.

Sir Tatton died two years later at the Metropole Hotel in London and the manager was anxious to suppress the news of a death in the hotel and he planned to smuggle the body out in a hollow sofa. Quite naturally Tatton`s son objected “However my father leaves this hotel, he will leave as a gentleman” Perhaps old Sir Tatton might have approved of the hotel managers idea, as by his own request he was to be taken to his grave in a farm cart



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