This quirky, off-balance structure is famously known as The Crooked House of Windsor. It is a Grade II listed commercial building in Windsor, England dating back 1687.
The structure, which is also called The Market Cross House, was reconstructed in the eighteenth century and now stands at “an outrageous slant.” It has three storeys and bay windows at both the front and rear.
The Crooked House of Windsor is tilted at an awkward angle that seems to defy and even taunt the laws of gravity. But the building has not always been tilted.
The Crooked House of Windsor was originally built in 1592 on the edge of the town’s market square – thus its older name of the Market Cross House. Originally, the structure was rented by a butcher because the area used to be the town’s meat market.
The original iteration of this structure spent her first 100 years as a normal, unremarkable commercial building. That is, until 1687, when the town council ordered the building to be torn down in order to make room for the neighboring Guildhall. A dramatic legal battle ensued which resulted in the council being rebuked for destroying the beloved Market Cross House, and ordered to rebuild it just the way it was.
The bitter and impatient local council rebuilt the structure as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Unseasoned green oak was used rather than a sturdier wood. So once the wood dried out, it buckled and warped. Eventually, the house settled into its characteristic lean that you see today.
But there is an alternative hypothesis as to how the house became crooked. Some historians point out that the structure remained at a straight angle up until the 1820’s. This was because it was sandwiched in by adjoining buildings, which would have supported it. But when these buildings were demolished in the 1820’s the house had no side support and began to buckle and twist.
Evidence of this theory can be seen in an oil painting housed in the neighboring Guildhall. During the Late Victorian period, when the painting was done, the Market Cross House was a beer shop known as the Royal Standard. The structure you see in the painting below doesn’t look nearly as crooked as what we see today.
Whatever the cause, this idiosyncratic beauty has a place in the hearts of many locals and is beloved by photographers around the world.
Over the centuries, The Market Cross House has hosted a butcher’s shop, a brewery, an antique shop, a tea house, and most recently, a jewelry store.
Another unique thing about the Crooked House of Windsor is a “secret” tunnel passage from the basement that purportedly connects the building with Windsor Castle. This passageway was allegedly used by Charles II to sneak out and meet his mistress, Nell Gwynn.
The Crooked House of Windsor last went on the market in 2015 for £1.5 million.
Let’s have a look inside via the listing photos…
Although thoroughly sanitized by modern sensibilities, the interior still retains a bit of character.
One thing the Crooked House of Windsor has never actually been used as in its history: a private dwelling.
How fabulous would it be to live in this dizzy mess of a place?
A drunken lean makes this place no less a beauty.
Love the history behind this crooked beauty.