Have a go at… Mr Straw’s House tours
Imagine opening the door of a modest family home, and stepping into a real life time capsule, with a place for everything – and everything still in its place.
Blyth Grove, Worksop holds a fascinating secret. Set amidst your typical example of modern suburbia, on a quiet side road in a north Nottinghamshire town, stands a house which must be seen to be believed.
On the first Saturday in May, I took a tour of Mr Straw’s House, a National Trust property, and here is a little of what I found.
Tours of Mr Straw’s House start next door at No.5, which has been lovingly converted into a reception, gift shop and museum. Visitors are welcomed by passionate staff who whisk you to an upstairs room to enjoy a video with a little background history to the house, this really helps set the scene of what you are about to discover.
Visitors are then led next door to No.7, to see what awaits them behind the door. Although the video was a great precursor to the tour, it doesn’t prepare you for the amazing wonders you are about to see.
The house provides a brilliant example of ordinary family life throughout the 20th Century (with particular reference to the 1920s) – there is so much to see that you may even need to plan another look round to take it all in. It’s a brilliant space for all ages, with curious items providing new insights for children – and a few fond memories for adults.
Wandering around the house, you meet friendly tour guides at their own station. Much of each room is roped off to preserve the treasures they hold – but there is enough room to stand and admire, and you are given plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere.
There are so many stories and secrets which the tour guides are happy to share with you, and each room invites you to use your imagination – conjuring up ideas as to how they may have lived. You can envisage Mrs Straw entertaining ladies in her sitting room, or playing her beloved piano in the upstairs bedroom, or picture Mr Straw sitting in the upstairs landing, watching scrupulously over his orchard – making sure his apples were safe from ‘scrumpers’.
Treasures to look out for include the intricate Egyptian style woven carpet which lines the first staircase, relics from Mr Straw’s Grocery (Still standing today across from Worksop Market Place – although now as an espresso bar), and fantastic examples of 20th Century innovation and industry with gems such as a ‘Baby Daisy’ vacuum cleaner. I am sure as you take a peek into the life of the Straw’s you too will discover your own favourite items.
As a resident local to Worksop myself, it was interesting to find out so much information about the town during that time, and how the Straw family held a respectable place within the community.
After finding your own favourites during a tour of the house and garden, you are treated to a browse around the gift shop – and can even take home cuttings from the cacti in Mr Straw’s green house (perhaps a descendant from one he cultivated himself) – I myself brought home a lovely succulent.
What struck me most were the examples of modern day life playing out either side of the garden wall. It really brought it home how important the museum is in helping future generations understand life during this period.
Tours of Mr Straw’s House are by ticket admission only – and pre booking is a requirement. Due to the size of the property, visitors are led around in small groups, which really serves as an advantage allowing you to make the most out of the experience.
I highly recommend a visit on the first Saturday of the month, as the Friends of Mr Straw’s House sell cake and tea in the orchard opposite – a welcome treat after your trip back in time. Time travel is thirsty work.
Mr Straw’s House will be taking part in Museums at Night on Friday 18 May. [This event is now fully booked] – look out for more events here during the summer.