Notable Pubs #2: The Crooked House, Himley, Staffs

The Crooked House in Himley, just over the Staffordshire border near Dudley, is one of the weirdest pubs in Britain.

Reportedly built as a farmhouse, most accounts of its history assert that it became a public house in the 19th century, and was at first known as The Siden House. Siden, in the local dialect, meant ‘lopsided’ and it is an accurate description as one side of the pub is several feet lower than the other.

The leaning, now stabilised, is supposed to be a result of subsidence caused by coal-mining and has left doors, windows and signs entirely skew-whiff so that the building appears to be frozen in mid-collapse

The interior is no less strange with walls leaning backwards, the bar looming forward, and floors appearing to slope. At the same time, glasses slide across seemingly level surfaces, and marbles roll upward along shelves. It is a disorienting environment to drink in and, as one newspaper report put it, ‘he who negotiates it lurches from side to side like a landsman on board a ship in a storm’ (Dundee Evening Post, 16/09/1904).

A 1906 newspaper illustration of the Crooked House.
A 1906 newspaper illustration of the Crooked House showing brick buttresses.

Another report in the Daily Express (15/09/1904), suggested that it had only became a tourist attraction at around the turn of the 20th century, ‘a favourite place for a drive on Sundays’. (Perhaps over-egging, the same report describes the pub as ‘A Rival to the Tower of Pisa’.)

Its formal name was until recently the Glynne Arms, after Sir Stephen Glynne, 8th Baronet (1807-1874); though the inn stands on land owned by the Early of Dudley, Glynne owned and worked property thereabouts — some reports say he was engaged in mining, others that he operated an ironworks.

Postcard of the Crooked House c.1900.
Early 20th century postcard from the authors’ own collection.

These days, however, the pubs is officially called The Crooked House, and serves beer from Banks’s.

Main image derived from ‘Crooked House’ by Peter Broster, via Flickr, under a Creative Commons licence. The Crooked House is a staple of ‘Inns of Old England’ books but we feel justified in writing about it because we’d never registered it until last year, and so we guess others won’t know about it either.

Beer history

Today in Beer History: Marching in Stone

The march at Stone, 3 November, 1973.
Christopher Hutt in front of the words WHO NEXT? Source: The Stone Newsletter, 9 November, 1973.

On 3 November, 1973, around six hundred members of the Campaign for Real Ale descended on the Staffordshire town of Stone to protest against Bass Charrington’s plans to close the local brewery, Joule’s.

The march was led by CAMRA Chairman Christopher Hutt, author of The Death of the English Pub, and organised by Terry Pattinson.

Joule's of Stone beer crate.

They were joined by locals, members of the Transport and General Workers Union, and the town’s brass band. The march was scheduled to begin at Westbridge Park at 3:15 p.m, and, after a circuit round the town centre,  wound up at the cinema, where Hutt gave an impassioned speech.