On an extremely blustery day in March I decided to visit Mr Straw’s House, a National Trust property in Worksop. It’s been on my radar for a while and thanks to the excellent directions on their website it was even easier to locate than I’d been expecting – a quick 10 minute walk away from Worksop train station. The House, which doesn’t look very impressive from the outside, is an intriguing snapshot inside of life in the 1920s; even though there was a Straw living in the house well into the 1980s, the house has hardly been altered since 1923.
Because the house is so cramped and the furnishings, including the delicate wallpaper, need to be preserved the tour of the house is by timed entry only and for about 4 people at a time, so it’s necessary to ring up and book a place in advance – it certainly did seem very busy the day I was there.
The Straw’s moved into their Blyth Grove home around 1923. The father, William Straw, was a successful grocer and ran the business with his younger son Walter whilst his eldest son William moved to London to teach. When William Senior died suddenly whilst gardening, which appears to have been the catalyst for the family refusing to change anything in the house, Walter continued running the family business and when their mother died seven years later, William moved back from London to live with his brother and look after the house.
It was the son William who insisted on the routines of the house – including no telephone, radio or television and not changing the clocks to accommodate Daylight Savings Time. And it was William who left the house to the National Trust when he died in 1990.
It’s a very dark house, partly as the curtains need to be drawn to prevent sun damage, and partly because of the dark wallpaper popular at the time. The corridors are quite tight too but the rooms themselves seemed reasonably sized, though the kitchen is much smaller than most of us are used to today.
The fully installed bathroom was also very luxurious for the time, although it doesn’t have any heating.
The house is really well preserved with each room its own perfectly formed time capsule. I particularly liked the sitting room, which was Florence Straw’s (wife of William Senior) main room and which has one of the two pianos in the house and stacks and stacks of envelopes – they don’t appear to have thrown much, if anything, away.
One curiosity we had our attention drawn to is the cupboard on the second floor full of grocery items presumably from when they sold their shop, but also items that wouldn’t have been readily available at that time and which must have been purchased elsewhere – possibly by William when he was living in London.
A strange highlight was walking through an almost completely concealed door into the house next door which had also been owned by the Straws, although they never lived there. Here you can find the mini museum of the Straw’s artefacts and items which were moved over from the main house. I particularly liked this letter from a former pupil of William’s.
From here we proceeded to the gardens
and had a look around the greenhouse and its impressive collection of cacti before the tour concluded.
The house provides a really interesting history lesson and all the guides were so well-informed and enthusiastic that it is definitely worth the admission price of £6.75 (adult).
You can find many more photos of the property here.