Slanted Windows on New England Homes Are Supposed to Keep out Witches
Who knew this was a thing with diagonal windows? How fun to learn about.
Taste of Home says you and I can find these so-called 'Witch Windows,' all over the place if we're really looking.
To be honest, after all of my years in New England living in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and now New Hampshire, I've never seen these, but that shouldn't surprise me. Taste of Home says they're also referred to as 'Vermont Windows' because they originated there. Outside of Vermont, they're really only prevalent in parts of New Hampshire and Maine.
Anyway, if you're a bit in the dark like me, 'Witch Windows' are basically a double-hung window installed at a 45-degree angle on the second story of older farmhouses, and usually run parallel to the first and second story roof line.
This unique feature has a few reasons behind it. Besides keeping witches out, which I'll explain in a minute, these windows were used to possibly remove the deceased.
Let's start with the more practical reason first. Architecturally-speaking, 'Witch Windows' are an easy way to build an addition onto your home without messing with the existing roof. This brings light into the house without having to deal with the expense of altering your roof. Taste of Home adds that sometimes, to make things work with new additions, homeowners just reinstall old windows at an angle.
While that's the boring reason, let's get to the intriguing reasons.
Vermont lore says that witches can’t fly diagonally, so these crooked windows prevent them from getting into your house. I'm not sure how that works unless every window is diagonal, but it's still fun to picture and think about.
Also, sometimes these windows are referred to as 'Coffin Windows' because it was the only way to remove someone deceased in a coffin out of the home, since the staircases were too narrow.
Do you think you'll notice these slanted windows more now that you know the lore behind them?
Photo by Piledhigheranddeeper// CC BY-SA 4.0 (No changes made.)