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Meet the Straw family

Florence Straw and William Straw standing by a horse with William Jr & Walter on it's back
The Straw family in the early 1900s, in the yard at the back of the shop | © National Trust

Mr Straw's House is the quintessence of Edwardian success of a family that had moved from living 'above the shop' in the busy Market Place, to a semi-detached home in fashionable Blyth Grove, an exclusive private road set above the town centre. Here, meet the Straws; not hoarders, nor recluses - not even very odd - just people of their time, long after their time had passed.

William Straw

William was born in 1864 in Sutton-in-Ashfield, to a family of potters. He moved to Worksop in 1886 to work with his brother, Benjamin, who had a grocer shop. Three years later, William bought his brother out and ran the business alone.

By 1903, the shop was doing so well that he was able to buy the building, together with the two adjacent inns and the yard behind. William added a flower and vegetable seed business to his grocery enterprise in 1898.

In 1896, he married Florence Anne Winks and the pair had three children, William (born 1898), Walter (born 1899) and David (born 1901). After living above the shop, the family moved to Endcliffe Villa, 7 Blyth Grove in 1923.

At home, William was a keen gardener, a passion he passed down to his sons. In 1932, at the age of 67, William died suddenly of a cerebral haemorrhage whilst stooping to tend to a plant.

Florence Straw

Born in the same year as her future husband, Florence was a spirited young girl, educated at Dalestorth House, a girls boarding school near Mansfield. Outside school, Florence took cookery and sewing classes and went on to teach at the local Sunday School.

Florence was the daughter of a prominent Worksop tradesman called David Wall Winks, whose butcher's shop, on the corner of the Market Place in Worksop, was opposite the Straw's grocers.

Her marriage to William was a grand occasion celebrated in Worksop, and family life was the making of her. Her scope for home-making above the shop was necessarily limited, however, moving to Endcliffe Villa gave her the chance to decorate in her own style.

Florence enjoyed playing the piano, embroidery and art. She died in 1939 after a short illness.

The Straw family standing together
The Straw family | © National Trust

William Straw Jr

The eldest son, born in 1898, William Jr was educated at Edward VI Grammar School, Retford and King's College, London. His education was disrupted by conscription to the army during the First World War, being demobbed in 1919.

William went on to teach at City of London College and lived in London until Florence passed away. Moving back to Worksop, William took up the helm as housekeeper, championed causes he was interested in and served on a number of local committees. He was an academic, historian, book collector and campaigner, and wrote a history of St John's Church in Worksop.

As he grew older, William became less sociable, retiring behind the net curtains of Endcliffe Villa. William was admitted to hospital in 1985 after falling down the stairs at the house. He died in 1990 at the age of 92, having been unable to return to the home that was the private centre of his being.

Walter Winks Straw

Walter was the middle child, born in 1899. Like William, Walter was educated at local schools, before being conscripted into the army.

After passing his grocers exams with distinction in 1920, he joined the family business, which he ran until 1962. The shop closed on 3 March after 76 years of trading.

Walter was very involved in grocer associations, was an amateur archaeologist and a keen dancer. He also enjoyed gardening, growing dahlias and propagating cacti in the greenhouse in the back garden. Walter died in hospital in Worksop in 1976.

David Harold Straw

Born in 1901, David was the third son of William and Florence. He died in 1903, aged only two. Infant deaths were still commonplace then, which perhaps explains why this tragedy passed largely unremarked in family annals.

A young child and her mother bending down to look at flowers in the Sunken Garden in May at Castle Ward, County Down, Northern Ireland


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