The Crooked House of Windsor. Left: From the Front. Right: From the Back

A House with a Twist: The 16th Century Crooked House of Windsor and Its Colorful History

(Read the article on one page)

The Crooked House of Windsor, also known as the Market Cross House, is a 16th century building located in the market town of Windsor, in the southeastern English county of Berkshire. As its name suggests, this building is bent at a rather awkward angle that seems to defy gravity. Still, this building had not always been tilted, and only became so when it was rebuilt. Amazingly, in spite of its posture, the Crooked House of Windsor has remained standing until the present times.

The Crooked House of Windsor was originally built in 1592. As the building was located on the edge of the town’s market square, it was known also as the Market Cross House. Originally, the structure was rented by a butcher – the area used to be the town’s meat market.

Secret Passage to Windsor Castle Used for Illicit Trysts

Apart from the building’s crookedness, another interesting feature about the Crooked House of Windsor is the secret passageway (now blocked) that connected it to Windsor Castle. Produce from the market could be delivered directly to the kitchens of the castle via this hidden passage under the butcher’s shop. It has also been said that the passageway was used by King Charles II for illicit trysts with his mistress, Nell Gwyn.    

An underground passageway once connected the Crooked House to Windsor Castle, pictured

An underground passageway once connected the Crooked House to Windsor Castle, pictured ( CC by SA 2.5 )

Unseasoned Green Oak Creates Wonky House

The original structure was built straight, and would not have been much different from the surrounding buildings. It was only in 1687, almost a hundred years later, that the structure underwent its unfortunate change. In that year, an order was issued by the town council to have the building. This decision was made in order to allow the building of the Guildhall (incidentally designed by Sir Christopher Wren, most famous for being the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London) next door. A fierce land dispute ensued, and in the end, the town council was ordered by the court to have the house rebuilt, and to maintain the Guildhall at its present size. The town council submitted to the court’s ruling, and a new building was constructed.

Hoping to have the structure rebuilt as quickly as possible, it was decided that unseasoned green oak wood be used. This meant that the wood still had a high-water content when it was used to build the new house. It also meant that over time, the moisture in the wood would slowly evaporate. As a result of this, the new house slowly shifted, and eventually acquired its slant, thus becoming known as the Crooked House of Windsor.

The Crooked House of Windsor.

The Crooked House of Windsor. (Credit: Brian Robert Marshall / Creative Commons )

A Building Without Support

There is, on the other hand, an alternative hypothesis as to how the house became crooked. It has been suggested that the structure remained straight up until the 1820s. This was due to the adjoining buildings, which would have supported it, and stopped it from leaning. When these buildings were demolished, the house was left without support, and thus began to bend. Supporters of this view also point to an oil painting in the neighbouring Guildhall. During the Late Victorian period, the Crooked House of Windsor was a beer shop known as the Royal Standard. The house is depicted in this painting without the tilt that it is so famous for today.

The Crooked House has been used for a variety of businesses over the years. Amongst other things, the building had been a jeweller’s, a gift shop, and an antique shop in different periods of its history. It was most recently transformed into a tea house and restaurant. This establishment stood for 30 years, before it was closed down in 2015. According to an article from 2015 (and updated in 2016), the house was put up for sale for £ 1.5 million.  Whoever buys the Crooked House will not only have a unique place of abode, but will be immersed in a small slice of history.

Top image: The Crooked House of Windsor. Left: From the Front. Right: From the Back (public domain)

By Wu Mingren


Batt, F., 2015. Windsor famous leaning building The Crooked House is on the market for a cool £1.25m. [Online]
Available at:

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

The first ever Roman boxing gloves found in Britain are now on display at Vindolanda.
Still molded to the form of their former owner’s knuckles, boxing gloves found at the Roman site of Vindolanda in Northumberland, England hint at tales of soldiers increasing their battle skills, keeping up their fitness, and passing the time gambling on fights while stationed in the far northern lands of the empire.

Myths & Legends

Human Origins

Silhouettes (Public Domain) in front of blood cells (Public Domain) and a gene.
Most people who have the Rh blood type are Rh-positive. There are also instances, however, where people are Rh-Negative. Health problems may occur for the unborn child of a mother with Rh-Negative blood when the baby is Rh-Positive.

Ancient Technology

The Lycurgus Cup.
A strange chalice made its way into the British Museum’s collection in the 1950s. It is a 1,600-year-old jade green Roman artifact called the Lycurgus Cup. The image on the chalice is an iconic scene with King Lycurgus of Thrace...

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article