We meet the two ‘Crooked Men’ who live in the 600-year-old Crooked House in Lavenham, Suffolk and host tours and experiences in their medieval home
BRITAIN: What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Alex & Oli: Waking up in a 600-year-old house and in a 300-year-old bed is an incredible feeling. You can’t help but realise how lucky you are to be here.
Each day is different but one constant is the crowds of tourists that gather outside in the morning – The Crooked House is, after all, one of Britain’s most photographed homes. And we love it. We pop out and say hello, uncover Henry (our classic MG) and The Crooked House is ready for their photos and the day ahead!
B: Can you describe a typical day?
A&O: We’re very hands-on here and do everything ourselves – from the initial painting and decorating when we moved in, through to creating ‘Crooked’ art and hosting the experiences and events.
Everything we do is about sharing the 600-year story of The Crooked House and we tell it in a range of ways: through a black-tie supper club, house tours, ‘Crooked Life’ experiences and our art and antiques shop. The black-tie dinners are immersive experiences exploring different aspects of the house’s history. They’re great fun, slightly wacky, and wonderfully sociable occasions. The ‘Crooked Life’ experiences include a private tour of the house and village, followed by a traditional English afternoon tea together in our kitchen.
People come from all over the world to see The Crooked House and we love meeting everyone. Some know it from the nursery rhyme (The Crooked House is said to be the inspiration for There was a Crooked Man), others are Harry Potter fans (the setting for Godric’s Hollow in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I was here in Lavenham), and some just stumble across its fairytale facade and are curious as to what’s inside.
Oli does all the cooking for our events and can often be found in the kitchen, rustling up a home-cooked dinner for 20 people, with inspiration taken from medieval and Tudor cookbooks. Meanwhile, Alex makes magical tablescapes, complete with antique English silver and flowers cut from our garden.
B: What was it that made you fall in love with the house?
A&O: Alex first came across The Crooked House back in 2018, on a day trip to Lavenham. At the time, it was a tearoom and when he stepped inside, he just knew he wanted to live here one day. It seemed pure fantasy, but when the pandemic came two years later, everything changed. It was during that time that we met online and quickly knew we’d be together forever.
Discussing hopes and plans for our future life, the conversation soon turned to The Crooked House. Remarkably, it was up for sale and the perfect home for us.
B: What is your favourite part of the day?
A&O: Getting into costume! According to the nursery rhyme, The Crooked House was home to the Crooked Man. Today, it’s home to two Crooked Men. Our Tudor costumes are a fun way to bring the Crooked Men to life, and it’s perfect for keeping warm in winter, wearing our Tudor wool outfits.
B: What is it like working surrounded by such history?
A&O: It’s very inspiring and really puts everything in perspective. When we moved in, one of our neighbours said to us, “You’ll never be stressed here in Lavenham. These houses have seen wars, plagues, poverty, everything – no daily worries we may have can even compare.” And she was right. The Crooked House is a magical place to live and work – we never want to be anywhere else!
B: The Crooked House is so old – is it haunted?
A&O: It is indeed. We have seven ghosts here, making this possibly Britain’s most-haunted house! From a woman and child in the bedroom (yes, Alex has seen them – and he didn’t believe in ghosts!) to three Tudor men, a 1960s resident and a ghost cat – for a small house, it’s rather crowded. They’re all very friendly though, and it’s their house as much as ours.
B: Why do you think it’s important to tell the story of the house?
A&O: The house has something for everyone. For history and culture lovers, this 600-year-old house has seen the reigns of Henry VII and Elizabeth I. For architecture enthusiasts and photographers, The Crooked House’s wonderfully wonky facade is a marvel to behold. For us, it’s our lifelong home – one that we want to share with everyone to protect and preserve a place that’s perfectly Crooked, just as it is.
For information on tours, experiences and more at The Crooked House, see crookedhouselavenham.com