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WINSLEY (or Winksey) HOUSE (the new post office)
The history of Winsley House and its adjacent cottage was for many years also the history of the Pratt family. At the time of the last accessible census in 1911 a family of that name occupied the premises and the same family can be traced back through the census history of Hampsthwaite to 1841. It is possible that they occupied the same property throughout that time although the census compilers rarely identified clearly the properties they described unless the property was a notable one e.g. a vicarage, farm or public house. In early census returns it is sometimes possible to identify a property from the proximity of a census entry relating to other properties actually named or by recognising the route the information gatherer has followed.
The Pratt story begins in 1841 with Thomas Pratt, a 20–year old journeyman tailor recorded as living at Melmerby with his parents William and (? Jemima). William was a tailor also and then aged 70. In that same census we find a Pratt family living in Hampsthwaite in a house near the Joiner’s Arms. John Pratt is a 48 year old tailor and living with him are his wife Mary and children Mary, Sarah, Robert and Jane. The connection between the two families is not known but, ten years later in 1851, the next census shows Thomas living in what seems to be Winsley House and John and wife Mary have moved to Melmerby! Their children have left to places unknown.
Thomas next features at Winsley House (property not named but a few doors from the Joiners Arms) in 1861 and is now married to Bridget who was born in Osmotherley. They have four children – Thomas 6, Henry 4, Frederick 2 and Ann E. 6 months. Thomas senior is described as a tailor and draper.
In the 1871 census more children are recorded including Arthur, Louisa, Fanny and Wilfred. They still seem to be in the same house both then and also in 1881 and 1891.
Thomas seems to have died before the next census in 1901 because the head of the household is then recorded as Bridget, now a widow, and only Henry, Louisa and Wilfred are still living with her. At this point Winsley House is recorded as a separate household from Winsley Cottage which is occupied by Joseph Dove, a retired builder and his wife Mary and daughter Priscilla. The tailoring business in Winsley House is now that of Henry aged 43 and this is still the case by 1911 when Henry presides over a household which includes his mother Bridget, brother Wilfred and Wilfred’s own wife of 2 years Daisy and their new-born son Clarence.
The Land Tax survey of 1910 had treated Winsley House and Winsley Cottage as one freehold property owned by Arthur Pratt and occupied by Henry Pratt and Elizabeth Dawson but the 1911 census makes it clear that Elizabeth, a widow aged 82 living on her own means, occupies the cottage at a rent of three shillings and sixpence per week (about 17.5 pence in decimal terms!).
The survey describes the properties as follows…
“Stone faced slated house and shop-very fair condition. Shop (Tailor’s) and workroom (illegible), kitchen, scullery, 4 bedrooms. Outbuildings stone slated & (pantiled?), coals, E.C., washhouse.
Cottage adjoining (---- ?), small sitting room & living room, back kitchen and pantry. 3 small bedrooms, E.C. and store.
Re-cast to front (……?)
Archway leading to back garden.
Charges etc. Annuity £10 to Bridget G. Pratt 77 years of age
Valuation. W3/6d =£9.2.0d
House & shop £18”
When the West Riding Deeds Registry re-opens in 2017 (presently closed to remove to new premises) further research will be possible on the history of ownership. This may help to explain the construction of the property which appears either to have been first built as a pair of semi-detached houses or as one house with a separate shop entrance.