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The garden and beyond at Mr Straw's House

The back yard at Mr Straw's House, Nottinghamshire
The back yard at Mr Straw's House | © National Trust Images/Tom Webster-Deakin

William and Walter Straw were both keen walkers and kept fit and active. They were kept busy tending the garden at Blyth Grove and mapping out footpaths in the area. Walk in their footsteps and explore the great outdoors.

The garden

Having lived above the shop with only a small back yard, the Straws would have relished moving to Endcliffe Villa at 7 Blyth Grove and finding themselves with two gardens and an orchard.

Today they offer visitors the opportunity to relax in a quiet green oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Worksop.

The front garden offered the family separation from the street and privacy within the front room. Here you can see an elderly mulberry tree, a relatively rare survival.

The lovingly tended back garden includes a greenhouse housing Walter Straw’s cacti collection. The greenhouse is a modern replica, but some of the plants inside are the descendants of Walter’s originals. William Jr grew auriculas which he housed in an ‘auricula theatre’ – a range of stepped shelves which showed off the flowers to their best advantage.

The greenhouse at Mr Straw's House, Nottinghamshire
The greenhouse at Mr Straw's House | © National Trust Images/Tom Webster-Deakin

The orchard

The orchard allowed them a space for growing fruit and vegetables away from the Gentleman's Gardens – a plot of land purchased by William Sr to give him and his fellow trade owners an outdoor space of their own to enjoy and grow produce as a traditional allotment.

The orchard contains various fruit trees including apples, pears and plums, once used by the family to make preserves and other recipes. A copy of the original planting plan of the orchard exists dated 1926, with later additions.

Apple and pear varieties

Varieties of apple trees include Bramley and Cox’s Orange Pippin, still familiar to us today, but more unusual varieties such as ‘Rev.W.Wilks’, ‘Warner’s King’ and ‘Lord Suffield’ are also represented. The Bramley was a local apple, having been discovered in a cottage garden in Southwell, Nottinghamshire.

Pear varieties include ‘Beurre D’Amanlis’, ‘Pitmaston Duchess’ and ‘Lord Grosvenor’. Plum varieties include ‘Victoria’, ‘Belgian Purple’ and ‘Pond’s Seedling’.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries there was an upsurge of interest in different varieties of apple and many cultivars were developed during this period. For example, Rev. W. Wilks, vicar of Shirley in Surrey and secretary of the Royal Horticultural Society from 1888 to 1919 developed his apple in 1904, so it would have been a relatively new variety when the Straws planted theirs in 1926.

Further afield

William and Walter enjoyed walking in the great outdoors and were even involved in helping map out the footpaths in their area when the Public Rights of Way Act was first introduced.

The brothers also enjoyed a walk around Worksop itself. Every Sunday they would take a turn through the town to check on the places they owned, the business and to get a bit of fresh air.

You can take the 2.5-mile Worksop Walk to see the places in the town they would have known, including the college Walter taught classes at, the church they worshipped at, and their old grocery shop premises.

Hunting for bugs at Ormesby Hall, North Yorkshire
Go bug hunting in the garden | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

'50 things to do before you’re 11¾'

If you’re trying to achieve all of the '50 things to do before you’re 11¾' then look no further than the orchard. The Straws took advantage of all their green space and planned in meticulous detail the things they would grow, including the varieties of apple, pear and plum.

You could tick off No.1: Get to know a tree and go hunting in the nooks and crannies of the bark for No.31: Make friends with a bug. Use the fallen leaves in autumn and sticks on the ground to complete No.18: Create some wild art.

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