Starkie House

Winckley Square

Starkie House, Winckley Square entrance: Steve Harrison

The original address of Starkie House was 14 Starkie Street. The north side of the house facing Winckley Square had 4 windows on the ground floor so as to maximise the potential for overlooking the Gardens.

14, Starkie Street original entrance: Steve Harrison

Circa 1906 the owner, John Parker, decided it was probably more prestigious to have a Winckley Square address. A window on the north side of the house was converted to a front door with steps. You can see the window that is now the entrance in the photograph below. The address- Starkie House, Winckley Square, was listed for the first time in the 1911 census.

The Starkie Street entrance remained for many years and the directories indicate that the postal address remained 14, Starkie Street up to the early 1930s. The entrance in Starkie Street was still in use in the 1960s. Visitors to the Square recall going through the Starkie Street entrance when there were dancing classes run in Starkie House. We don’t know when the Starkie Street entrance was converted to a window.

14 Starkie Street c. 1850 showing the window which was subsequently replaced with a door: Preston Digital Archive


In the beginning: 1844

The Preston Chronicle, Saturday, April 27, 1844 reported:

PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS AND ALTERATIONS IN THE TOWN AND NEIGHBOURHOOD – It is gratifying to our local pride, to witness the alterations and improvements which have been projected and undertaken in our good town, they are evidence of its increasing prosperity, of the extension of its trade, and the activity of its business.  In Winckley Square, James German, Paul Catterall and Thomas Ainsworth, Esqrs, are about to erect handsome mansions, which with the intended buildings for the Literary and Philosophical Institution and News Room, will complete three sides of the area, leaving only a small vacancy on the west, short of finishing the square.

These developments of the 1840s marked a step change from the original plan for a Square surrounded by Georgian styled houses. The Chronicle clearly regarded it positively.

James German

James German then built what is now Starkie House on the corner of Winckley Square and Starkie Street. As others had done before him he built the property with its entrance on the side street so uninterrupted views of the Gardens could be seen from the two north-facing Reception rooms. At the same time Paul Catterall built 13, Winckley Square (now Charnley House).

The other three buildings mentioned have all been demolished. The Ainsworth home was what we know as the Italian Villa, The Literary and Philosophical Institution along with the News Room (Winckley Club) were Gothic style buildings for the use of Preston’s most influential men.

1836 Myres map showing the spaces on the east and the south sides of the Square where Charnley House, Starkie House and the Gothic style buildings were to be built

The purchase agreement Paul Caterall and James German entered into with Ellen Cross stipulated that the houses should be 2 storeys high, unlike previous agreements about earlier houses which had stipulated 3 storeys. This may have been because it would ensure the roofs of the two new houses would be in line with the existing houses already on the south side of the Square.

James German

James was born in 1820 in Highfield House, Wigan. His father James Fisher German died in 1824 at the age of 36 when James was 4 years old. Unfortunately his father had accrued a significant amount of debt leaving James and his mother in difficult circumstances. You can read more about James in the People section of this website.

Highfield House, Wigan: Postcard stamped 1905

James German married Martha, the only daughter of Henry Parker, at Preston Parish Church (now the Minster) on August 25th 1841. The details of the marriage are recorded in The Preston Chronicle, Saturday, August 28, 1841


On Wednesday, last, at the Parish Church by the Rev. J. Clay, BD, James only son of the late James Fisher German, Esq, to Martha, only daughter of the late Henry Parker, Esq. of Whittingham House. 

James was recorded as living at The Cliff when he married Martha and Martha’s address was Ribble Bank. These were actually the same address: the residence of Thomas German, James’ cousin once removed. Thomas was twice Mayor of Preston; in 1837-38 and 1845-46. Whittingham House, Martha’s home, had been rented to a tenant, as Martha’s mother had remarried and was living in Bath and her brother, who had inherited the family estate, on their father’s death, was not yet 21 years old.

Thomas German died in 1847 leaving a lengthy Will proved in the Archdeaconry of Chester which named James German as a beneficiary.  

Preston Chronicle, Saturday, August 28, 1841   


James held Thomas German in high regard and had a school built in Preston which he partially endowed in tribute to Thomas.

German’s School

German’s School

‘GERMAN’S Elizabeth-street: – This establishment was built and partially endowed by James German Esq. in 1848.  Its superintendence is intrusted to the minister of All Saints’ Church. The northern gable bears the following inscription:-

These schools are erected by James German, as an affectionate tribute to the Memory of the late Thomas German, Esq, of this Town, and in grateful Remembrance of his liberal and Christian example.’

History of the Borough of Preston and its Environs in the County of Lancaster: Charles Hardwick 1857 p 491

In the 1841 Census James is listed as a ‘Machine maker’. This occupation included the owners of substantial factories producing machines, typically for the textile industry. In 1849 he was called to the Bar and subsequently practised as a barrister in Preston for some years. In the same year, at the age of 29, James was the Mayor of Preston (1849-50) and he was for many years a Justice of the Peace for the county.  He twice stood as candidate in the Liberal interest for the representation in Parliament for Preston. When he left Preston the Liberals of the town presented Major German with 300 ounces of silver plate. Major German had a commission in the 3rd Royal Lancashire Militia.

14 Starkie Street

The house 14 Starkie Street is shown on the 1844 Ordnance Survey Map of Preston on the corner of Winckley Square and Starkie St. The house was built before the Building Control Plans commenced in 1850.

There are no plans available for the internal layout of the house but some of the principal rooms are mentioned in Ellen Tuson’s Will (a later occupant) See below.

Ordnance Survey 1st Edition, 1844

In 1844 James lived at 18 Ribblesdale Place which is the house on the corner of Winckley Square and Ribblesdale Place. He used this address when he applied to the Town Clerk of the Borough of Preston to have his name inserted in the Burgess List. The previous address cited was 1, Stanley Terrace where he had been rated in the Parish of Preston from May 1st, 1841 to May 1st, 1844.

18 Ribblesdale Place Note the entrance is on Ribblesdale Place and not Winckley Square to maximise the views from the Reception Room window: Steve Harrison

Note what look like bricked up windows. These were not always built to avoid the Window Tax.


New Streets in Winckley Square: Improvement Commissioners 1847

A newspaper report of an Improvement Commissioners meeting mentions James German and Starkie Street in connection with NEW STREETS IN WINCKLEY SQUARE. Preston Chronicle in January 1847.

James had moved that the north and east sides of Winckley Square be declared public highways along with Starkie Street, where the entrance to his house was. This in effect meant the Council would become responsible for the maintenance of the roads.

There was some discussion as to whether house owners had paved and flagged the sections in front of their houses as they ought before the roads could be adopted.

James expressed the view that commissioners ought not to insist upon that as the roads to the north and east were used as thoroughfares by the public. He argued that the Committee had recommended that his motion should be adopted.

James then moved that Starkie Street be declared a public highway.  It was a continuation of the street embraced in the last motion i.e. the east side of the Square. It was properly paved, and was the most direct road through to Ribblesdale Place and Avenham Walk, and was already much used by the public. He thought, therefore, the Commissioners ought to take that on the same principle as the other streets.

Thomas Miller objected to Starkie Street being adopted by the Council because only two houses had been built on Starkie Street and the road would require altering several times. It is highly likely that James German did not want to foot the bill for the constant repair to the private road which was to be caused by further new build.

A heated discussion ensued. Read the whole of the reported debate in:

 The Preston Chronicle, January 9th, 1847 – Improvement Commissioners Meeting – James German and Starkie Street. 

(To enlarge the newspaper extract press Ctrl and scroll button on the mouse simultaneously)

To enlarge the newspaper extract press Ctrl and scroll button on mouse simultaneously.

Winckley Square Gates Again

In 1850 the residents of the south side of the Square erected gates at both ends of the road to prevent carts carrying bricks and coal to the gas works in Glover Street. Potentially the shortest route from the new railway warehouses was along Garden Street, along the south side of the Square in front of their homes, then along Cross Street to Glovers Street.

Gates at South East side of the Square: Preston Digital Archive


Gates at South West side of the Square: Preston Digital Archive

In May 1850 the Improvement Commissioners met to decide whether the south side of Winckley Square should be a public highway.

The ‘Preston Chronicle and Lancashire Advertiser’ of May 18th 1850 carried a report of a meeting of the Commissioners for the Improvement of the Borough of Preston in the County Palatine of Lancaster which was held to decide whether the south side of Winckley Square should be designated a public highway. The title of the newspaper report was The Winckley Square Gates Again; which speaks volumes.

It was a very heated meeting with many opposing views. James German and Paul Catterall argued very strongly that the road had been paid for by the residents and never used as a public highway

To read a synopsis of the meeting and the outcome go to The Winckley Square Gates Again;

Private Gated Gardens

14 Starkie Street had its own gate into the gardens. The original position of the gate was west of the current South East corner gate.  The Gardens were not open to the public.

The garden belonging to the owners of Starkie House runs from the front or the house to the north of the Robert Peel Statue. The original gate faced the house not on the corner as it is today.

Martha inherited the Parker estate on the death of her brother in 1844 and in the 1851 Census their address was Whittingham House

The address 14 Starkie Street is not recorded in the 1851 Census so we don’t know if it was rented or used by James and Martha as a town house but we do know it had not been sold.

In 1852 James sold a 7ft 6ins (2.29m) square plot at the north of his garden to the Corporation for £21 on which stands the Peel Statue.

Robert Peel Statue situated behind the wrought iron fence of James German’s garden Robert Pateson c. 1862.

Martha died in 1856. James, a widower with two children, married his second wife Marion Elizabeth Cooke (1837-1911) in 1857 with whom he had 10 children. The children were born between 1860 and 1873. James died in Sevenoaks on October 26th, 1901, aged 81. He was buried at St Nicholas’s Church, Sevenoaks.

Richard Baines Dixon

Richard Baines Dixon, 46, an attorney, was in 1861 the first person to be recorded on a census as an occupant at 14 Starkie Street. Richard had previously lived at 16 Church Street with a house servant, Grace Standen, unmarried, 50, born Goosnargh.

Attorneys made a handsome living from drafting and executing wills, drawing up deeds and settlements, arranging mortgages and loans, giving advice on investments, and by acting as stewards, estate managers, and rent-collectors.  Their legal expertise made them valuable members of town corporations and other governing bodies. Since 1875 attorneys have been called solicitors.

Richard had joined his father’s practice, James Dixon, in 1832 as a clerk to train to become an Attorney: a process which was to take 5 years.

Richard Baines Dixon Articles of Clerkship

Richard was elected as a Poor Law Guardian for Elston, near Grimsargh in 1868 and 1869. The details are recorded in The Preston Chronicle, Saturday April 18th, 1868 and Saturday, April 3rd, 1869. The “Poor Law Amendment Act (1834) took away parish responsibility for the poor and created Boards of Guardians for the management of poor relief through unions of parishes. These guardians were elected by local landowners and rate-payers.

Richard, 54, died at home at his residence, 14 Starkie St, on April 2nd, 1872. He was buried at Preston, St John (now the Minster) on April 8th, 1872.

 Richard was a wealthy man and demonstrated his appreciation of the work that his servants had done over the years. He left a number of annuities and legacies to them in his will which was proven on 2nd November 1872. His Effects were under £30,000. (Over £3 million today) He left to:

  • Grace Standen, housekeeper annuity of £20 and legacy of £20
  • Mary Alston, housemaid, legacy of £100 which was a considerable sum (over £11,000 today).
  • Simpson, man servant at Ashton, annuity of £20.
  • Bennett, Groom, a legacy of £50
  • Barton, Groom, a legacy of £50
  • James Billington, servant, annuity of £20

He also mentioned his house at Ashton and all his real and leasehold hereditaments devised to him by the late Thomas Walmsley (his cousin) of Preston and Ashton, who had died on October 10th, 1870 and bequeathed all his real and personal estate to Richard Baines Dixon who was his sole executor.

Curiously Richard Baines Dixon was listed at 2 Starkie Street in the 1871 Census along with his servants Grace Standen and Mary Alston. Just a year later he died at his residence of 14 Starkie Street, across the road.

Joseph Hutchinson Hammond

Dr Joseph Hutchinson Hammond and family were the next occupants of 14 Starkie St. In the 1871 Census Joseph was described as a Physician M.D. Kings College, Aberdeen, MRP London, aged 44, born Scarborough, Yorkshire. His wife Josephine Agnes Julia Angola (37) was born in Lucca, Italy and their 4 children, Joseph’s mother Jane (65) and 4 servants were also listed in the household. This is the first time we see 11 people living in the house.

Joseph married Agnes Rossi in 1856 in the Military Chapel, Zante, Ionian Islands according to the forms and ceremonies of the Church of England. They were married by Henry Mayhew, Chaplain to the Troops.

Marriage of Joseph H. Hammond & Agnes Rossi.

The witnesses were both military men – the Staff Surgeon and the Commanding Officer. Joseph was a British military surgeon and must therefore have been part of the formation of the British sanitary campaign in the Ionian Islands during the period 1815–1864.

Former Hospital: Royal Army Medical Corps Ionian Islands: Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps BMJ

The Hammonds Move to Winckley Square

The Hammonds had moved to Preston in 1857-1858 and in 1861 lived at 34 Starkie St.

His entry in the Medical Directory – of 1860 – Provincial reads as follows:-

HAMMOND JOSEPH HUTCHINSON, Winckley-sq, Preston, Lancash M.D. King’s Coll, Aberd. 1858; M.R.C.S. England L.S.A 1850; late Asst.Surg. H.M. Forces.

Physicians usually had a university degree and this was required by law from 1522. Until the 19th century the medical profession was divided into physicians (who diagnosed internal disorders), surgeons (who performed operations) and apothecaries who prepared medicines.

On June 6th, 1850 Joseph Hutchinson Hammond of Bridlington Quay passed his Examination in the Science and Practice of Medicine, and received a certificate to practise. He was admitted as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons on October 4th, 1850 after having undergone the necessary examinations for the diploma. He was living in Preston by 1860 and was also admitted to the College of Physicians. The details in The Preston Guardian, dated Saturday, March 24, 1860 were as follows:   


COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS – On Saturday last, Joseph Hutchinson Hammond M.D. of this town, and Richard Leack, MD of Blackburn, were admitted members of the Royal College of Physicians.

Hammond Joseph Hutchinson, MD, physician, is listed as a Physician at 14 Starkie St. in the 1877 Directory of Preston & District Mannex, 1877

By 1881 Joseph was obviously doing very well and the family had moved to the prestigious address of 11 Winckley Square, better known as the Italian Villa, the former residence of William Ainsworth,  Cotton Manufacturer, (died 1862).

The Italian Villa 11, Winckley Square: Cross Street entrance: Preston Digital Archive c 1860

The family continued to live there and it is where Joseph died at the age of 92 on January 4th, 1920. He left a large estate of £9,923.1s.5d. (Approx. £440,000 today)  His executors were his son Dayrell Talbot Hammond retired brigadier general HM Army and Henry Francis Wilson, Solicitor.

The Tuson Sisters 1881-1898

The next occupants of 14 Starkie Street and listed in the 1881 Census were Mary A. Lord, a Widow (63), Ellen (62) and Alice Tuson (60). Ellen and Alice were Mary’s unmarried sisters, all three were born in Preston. Also in the house were Mary’s granddaughters Clara A. Lord (23) and Georgina E. Lord (20), both born in Chester and 3 servants.

24 and 25 Ribblesdale Place: Steve Harrison

Mary formerly lived at 24 Ribblesdale Place with her husband George Lord, ‘gentleman’. Ellen & Alice Tuson had lived next door at number 25 (Preston Directory, 1877). Mary died April 25th; 1890. Mary left an estate of £27,855.12s. Just over two years later on September 11th, 1892 Alice Tuson of 14 Starkie Street died, leaving an estate of £39,152.17s.3d.

Ellen Tuson died 18 months later on March 13th, 1894.  She left a large estate of £83,183.11s.11d. (Approximately £10 million today)

Mary Anne Lord and Alice Tuson left everything to their remaining sister(s) in their Wills, hence the Will of the remaining sister Ellen being such a considerable sum. Ellen’s Will gives us a picture of what the inside of their home at 14, Starkie Street  might have looked like through their possessions:- paintings, items of silver etc.  It also mentions some of the rooms in the house.

Ellen also made many charitable bequests. She bequeathed £5,000 to the Preston and County of Lancaster Infirmary, and £5,000 to the Blind Institute.  In total she bequeathed £40,000 to local charities which was a huge sum at that time. (Over £5 million today)


Institute for the blind 1867: Preston Digital Archive

All three sisters are buried at Penwortham, St Mary Church. They were the daughters of William Tuson who was a grocer and tea dealer in Preston, and was highly esteemed for his integrity. He was for many years auditor to the Preston Waterworks Company and the Preston Gas Company.  He was a member of the congregation of All Saints’ Church, in the erection of which he took an active part, as he did also in all the religious and educational efforts of the congregation since it was opened.

All Saints Church: Preston Digital Archive


The Tuson family had strong links with All Saints Church. Ellen Tuson dedicated a lectern in memory of her sisters Mary Ann Lord & Alice Tuson on August 23rd, 1893 at a cost of £80.  The event is recorded in The Preston Chronicle:-The Preston Guardian etc. August 26th, 1893


To the memory of Mary Ann Lord & Alice Tuson this lectern is dedicated by their sister Ellen Tuson 23rd August 1893.  The cost was about £80 and the work is very attractive.


John Parker

John Parker and family were the next to occupy 14, Starkie Street and it was during their time between 1901 and 1911 that the address was changed from 14 Starkie Street to ‘Starkie House, Winckley Square’.

John was a solicitor and county coroner. He is listed in the Preston Directories 1898, 1901 and 1910.

John Parker, Solicitor and commissioner for oaths (Forshaw & Parker) and county coroner, 9 Cannon St; house 14 Starkie Street

In the 1901 Census John Parker was listed as aged 54, Solicitor & County Coroner, born Bartle. His wife Emilie A. Parker, 41 was born Surrey, Camberwell and their two children listed- Harold B. Parker, 19, Solicitor’s Articled Clerk and Dorothy E. Parker, 9 were both born in Preston. They had 3 servants.

By 1911 John gave the address as Starkie House. Listed were John and Emilie, 3 sons: – Arthur (27, solicitor), Geoffrey (26, Barrister), Percival (24, Chartered Accountant) and one daughter Dorothy Emilie 19 (occupation blank). They had a cook, maid and parlour maid.

John and Emilie had been married 31 years and had 5 children; all living. Their eldest son, Harold, also a solicitor was living on Bank Parade with his wife and 3 servants.

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Despite the house name being changed to Starkie House John was listed at 14 Starkie Street in the 1913 Preston Directory. In 1917 Mr G.Parker was listed and described as a Barrister-at-Law. John was listed in the Barrett’s Directory right up to his death.

Parker John, solicitor (Forshaw, Parker & Co) and county coroner; h, 1 Ribblesdale Place Tel 1796 

Between 1922 and 1926 John Parker had moved to 1, Ribblesdale Place where he died on December 25th, 1926. His Will was proved in London on January 20th, 1927 and his sons Harold, Arthur and Percival were his executors. His Estate was worth £27,006.14s.10d. (£1,638,899.25 today)

Harold Parker, who lived at 1 Ribblesdale Place, and Arthur Parker (living in Blackpool) were working as Solicitors in the family business (Forshaw, Parker & Co). Harold, notary public, was also a county coroner like his father and an official receiver in bankruptcy.

James Openshaw

James Openshaw was listed at 14 Starkie Street in Barrett’s Directory of Preston & District 1926-1927. Starkie House was the winter residence of the Openshaw family of Hothersall Hall.

Hothersall Hall: Ribchester History Society

In 1926 a part of the rear yard of Starkie House was sold by James Openshaw for the erection of an electricity substation (which stands there still).

 The Openshaws were judges in Preston for many years. James Openshaw, a Barrister, died at the beginning of 1935.