The history of Mr Straw's House

Packages in brown paper under a bed

Most National Trust properties inspire thoughts of historic mansions, wealth and grandeur. However, tucked away in a private cul-de-sac, at 7 Blyth Grove, you’ll find Mr Straw’s House; the National Trust’s first small domestic property, acquired in 1990.

To understand how this apparently normal red-brick Edwardian house became one of the Trust’s quirkiest properties, we need to go back more than 100 years.

Head of the family, William Straw moved to Worksop in 1886, to work for his brother, Benjamin, at his grocers.

A decade later, aged 32, William married Florence, the daughter of David Wall Winks, a butcher and local councillor whose shop stood opposite William’s.

The couple had three sons: William junior, in 1898; Walter, in 1899; and David, who died in infancy in 1903.

William’s business continued to thrive and, in 1923 the family moved from a flat above the shop in Worksop, to the semi-detached house in Blyth Grove, which was being developed as a residential area for professionals on the outskirts of the town.

To avoid being overlooked by neighbours, the Straws bought the vacant plot opposite which became an extension to the family garden and also an orchard.

Florence chose wallpaper, carpets and furniture of the time, to decorate the house, with ornaments, elegant glassware and new French doors completing the family home.

William Straw senior died suddenly in 1932 and from that day, little changed at number 7 Blyth Grove.

In a show of mourning and respect, the family kept William’s belongings in place, including his coats, hats and personal belongings as common for mourning periods during Victorian Britain. The calendar in the front room dates from that year remains today.

Life for the younger Straws changed forever when their mother died in 1939 and William returned to the family home from London, settling into a way of life that was not to change for the next 40 years.

For more than 60 years, they threw little away and chose to live without many modern comforts.

Outside, the lovingly tended garden and orchard includes a greenhouse housing Walter Straw's cacti collection and various fruit trees once used by the family to make preserves

Both brothers were pillars of the local community and every Sunday put on their blue suits and black bowler hats to sit in the same pew in St John’s Church.  

This was followed by their Sunday routine of a walk up Market Street after lunch, to check on the shop and their other properties in the town.  

Both brothers were keen gardeners; Walter specialising in cacti, which he grew in his greenhouse in the back garden. Both were also interested in local history, with William being actively involved in the Thoroton Society.

Visit Mr Straw’s House to discover more of the family who refused to modernise, learn  about the life of Florence Straw and her impact on this family home, spend some time in the diaply rooms, learning a little more about the stories of the family and a glimpse at some more of the collection usually hidden in drawers and cupboards and chat with the house team about how they care for over 30,000 everyday objects.

Tours are self-guided and limited to groups of 4, from the same household.

Mr Straw’s House will reopen to the public towards the end of May when indoor spaces and museums can reopen once again. Visits are by pre-booking only