Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Kindness of Strangers

It's not every day that you receive an email like this. Sometimes, out of the blue, someone says something lovely and it really, really makes your day.

My name is Matthew and I’m part of the Marketing Team at Sykes Cottages.

In April, we’ll be launching a month-long campaign celebrating all that is great and good in Yorkshire from our newly re-launched blog, rolling out across our different social media channels, which have over 100,000 followers.

I’m delighted to be able to tell you that Sykes has shortlisted Markenfield Hall as one of Yorkshire’s top 6 hidden gems and will feature in an upcoming campaign article.

I hope you’re pleased about the good news and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

And it was really true! Here we are:

The wording is just lovely - 

"Like in all the best fairy tales, however, the magical entrance to another world isn’t around for long and Markenfield Hall’s is no different; the gates of this unique place are only opened to the public for 30 precious days annually, so make sure you’re amongst the few each year to catch a glimpse of it!"

Thank you Sykes Cottages - you made this Administrator very happy!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The tattooed Pilgrim?

It's amazing how sometimes little snippets of information fall into your lap - watching the news last week there was an article about the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall, and a new exhibition on tattoos that they were putting on. 

The article itself was fascinating - and further information on the exhibition can be found here: What pricked my ears up was the mention of Mediaeval Pilgrimage tattoos.

It has long been known that Sir Thomas Markenfield (Thomas V) made a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land  in the 1560s, including a visit to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. We know this as a long list of places that he visited still exists.

At the end of his Pilgrimage Sir Thomas was admitted to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre on 14 June 1566. His citation sets out his credentials:

Lately to the most sacred Holy Land there came on pilgrimage with sincere devotion the Noble and Gentle Thomas Markynfeld of the English Nation and born of noble blood 
Lord of M[arkenfield]

The warrant was sealed with with the seal of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. To become a member of the Order was considered by Roman Catholics to be an honor worth more than any knighthood conferred by their own Sovereign.

"Accounts of crusaders visiting the Holy Land reveal that tattoos could also serve as permanent proof of pilgrimage trips. One person who has done a great deal of work on pilgrim tattoos is Dr. Anna Felicity Friedman at the Center for Tattoo History and Culture. As she notes, it is likely that  "tattoo practitioners and tattoo recipients looked at and drew from common Christian symbols and iconography around them for inspiration for their tattooed marks of faith." "

Was Sir Thomas Markenfield a tattooed pilgrim? We will probably never know, but the the tattoo shop he may have used still exists to this day:

With thanks to Janet Senior's book The Markenfields of Markenfield Hall for the information on Thomas V.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017


At the beginning of last year it was decided that the large Sycamore trees that lined the side of the moat were beginning to look rather worse for wear. A closer inspection revealed that they were suffering from various stages of Honey Fungus. The trees at the north end were in a worse state than the trees to the north as can be seen in this quite fascinating picture:

The trees to the north have spent the last couple of winters with their roots in substantial amounts of water after some of the wettest winters in memory. This had weakened them considerably and made them more susceptible to the disease.

After a lot of planning, the day dawned and the trees were brought down...

Last one standing... this one wanted to stay!

The last one was a bit of a struggle! It was the healthiest, but was by no means a healthy tree and would have started to die off like the others if left.

Once they were down we were able to get a better look at them - you can see the dark inner colour, which is where the fungus is attacking the inside of the tree. A quick count of the rings put the trees at around 200 years old, which puts them feasibly within the period of the Victorian restoration of the Hall carried out by 3rd Lord Grantley when he worked with local architect JR Walbran. 

During this time a few internal changes were made, but more striking was the exterior works - which we now know to include the park land. The 3rd Lord Grantley extended the Tudor long low farm buildings (extreme east and west buildings and still in use today) were extended to create two small courtyards either side of the central aisle that visitors see today.

The Friends of Markenfield have been busy fundraising and the new trees will be planted alongside the moat this spring.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Those who measure wealth in money alone...

It was a seemingly innocuous envelope that landed last December on the doormat. What it contained was not so.

It contained maps and plans outlining a proposal for the "Markenfield New Village Settlement" a development of hundreds of new houses covering the farmland from The Old Mediaeval Road down to the A61. 

Accompanying the alarming maps was a letter offering to make the owners "millionaires".

Needless to say, a letter was sent back explaining that the land they were proposing to build upon was worth more to the owners as it was, on an emotional level, than having millions of pounds in the bank and having to drive through something akin to Milton Keynes each and every time they wanted to leave home.

And so life went back to normal - peaceful, quiet and happily un-rich.

Until the Developer turned up at the door one day armed with a clipboard and pamphlets...

...needless to say he was not welcomed with open arms and was in fact threatened with the police should he return!

Markenfield is special - and it will stay that way.