Roy Leslie Winstanley (1913 – 2000)

Roy Leslie Winstanley, a noted expert on the 18th-century diarist Parson James Woodforde, was living at Halesowen in 1992 when he recalled:

“As a boy I lived in Thurlestone Road, for about two years. The number was, I think, 87 (*), and it faced down another road which led downhill to Canterbury Grove and Lansdown Hill. I remember it as a tall, battered looking Victorian house which had seen better days, and it was infested with mice to such a degree that the mice must have considered themselves the real owners. Food had to be kept in a meat safe, and before we left the owners were chewing their way into it. My parents and I occupied furnished rooms, and we first went there in a horse-cab which used to stand, I suppose a last survivor of a number which had once been there, in the forecourt of Tulse Hill station. The hill nearly killed the poor old horse. The date must have been around 1925.”

(*) The 1925 & 1926 electoral registers include Bertie Leslie Winstanley (1887-1954) at 85 Thurlestone Road.

Roy was born in Yorkshire, the son of Bertie Leslie and Mary Mabel Winstanley. After departing from Thurlestone Road, the family home was at 10 Bloomhall Road, a newly-built house on the council estate close to Norwood Park, where Bertie and Mary arrived on the electoral register in 1927. The final year in which the by then three adult Winstanleys were registered at that address was 1937. By the time the population register was compiled in September 1939, they had moved to Halesowen.

Initially Roy was a clerical worker but, having becoming fluent in a number of European languages, he served in the Allied Control Commission after the end of the Second World War. Following a period living in Canada and employment in an iron and steel works in the Black Country, he was awarded a scholarship to read history at St Catherine’s College, Oxford. Later, he followed a career in education and lectured in English Literature and Economic History at Matthew Boulton College, Birmingham (now part of Birmingham Metropolitan College).

He wrote the first biography of Parson Woodforde and produced a total of eleven volumes of his writings, working from the original diaries held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. These works were published by the Parson Woodforde Society, of which Roy was a very active member.

Thank you to Martin Brayne of the Parson Woodforde Society for providing the picture of Roy Winstanley, which was taken when he graduated as a mature student from Oxford