Our weirdly wonderful stairs at PumpjackPiddlewick

If you have ever visited a castle you may have heard the reasoning that stairs curved upward clockwise to hinder an advancing enemy, who, normally right handed, would have his drawn sword consequently on the inner side of the stairwell as he climbed, whilst the defender would be free to advance down with his sword extended.

Why am I thinking about this?

It’s our stairs. They are old. And wonky. I mean really old, and really wonky. Our petite maison is probably from about the 1600s. We think. And whoever built it, either didn’t have a clue about how to build stairs or was seriously out to put off advancing rogues.

The stairs start upward rather normal. Normal-ish height, normal-ish width. And then you reach the curve and it starts going a bit off kilter. The width begins to vary per step, not as would be expected because one has approached a curve, but rather in a slightly more random fashion.

Into the next curve and it steps up into wilful disobedience. Not only are there different widths, some narrow, some wide, but also different heights. One in particular has caught us out a few times, going up and down (though preferably up). Look closely in the main photograph and see if you can spot the culprit.

And the final denouement doesn’t let you down (well hopefully). The person who built the top section of stairs obviously decided straight was for bores. So as one enters the homestretch, he decided that he should slant all the stairs slightly. No obvious reason can be seen as to why someone would do this. It serves no purpose that we can discern. But maybe it was all part of the great defence tactic.

For more country life in France findings, enjoy some light reading amongst our Vignettes.




  1. It looks like a Friday afternoon job to me. Or perhaps, as it’s France, after lunch on any day of the week?

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