These weird windows are designed to stop witch attacks

Originally published at: These weird windows are designed to stop witch attacks | Boing Boing


So the Witch Window thing was one of those things told to gullible outsiders? That definitely sounds like a farmer joke.


I’m kinda partial to the coffin idea.

When my dad was dying of cancer, he had a hospital bed at home. And, as expected, that was the bed he died in. So we put him in a body bag, then discovered that the hospital bed must have been delivered folded up, as that was the only way it was getting through that hallway. Good times.


Seems legit.




According to “A Shelter Sketchbook,” it was more about letting light in.

They’re all around New England. A friend built a straw bale home in VT and wanted to incorporate some local vernacular so he included a witch window and said it was NOT worth all the extra work. I imagine it’s slightly easier with wood frame construction.


When I have guests visit me in Vermont, I tell them about witch windows. It makes for a great scavenger hunt when driving around the state. “Spot the witch window!”


Am I the only one who look at that and sees A) an absolute thermal nightmare in the winter, and B) one of many small vent windows that if remotely opened/closed, with reversible fans behind them, could allow a house to breath in a coordinated manner so as to take advantage of the weather over the course of each day?


That’s the second HR Puffenstuff reference in the last week or so! Good memories.


That’s all nonsense. It’s Vermont, the home of Yankee Ingenuity. That’s just a normal window tucked into an unusual location, because normal windows are cheaper than buying something that’s made special for that space.




Just remembered another bit of vernacular that helps makes sense of this. In New England there’s the traditional old, “big house, little house, back house, barn” thing you see on old farms. I’m a little rusty, but I think they’d build the little house, live in that while they built the barn to get their livestock and farming stuff situated, then build the big house onto the little house (and finally the back house?).
So when they built the big house, it makes sense that they’d have that weird offset roof issue. Usually there was a staircase there, and putting the window in at a slant made sense to get light in there.


which witch attacks?


Yes. I think it went like this:
Non-Vermonter: “What’s up with the tilted window?”
Vermonter: “Which window?”
Non-Vermonter: “It’s a witch window? A window to stop witches?”
Vermonter: “Ummm…Yeah, that’s what it is alright.”


But if you throw a small rock through a witch window into a pond, will it float?


I have seen old houses around here that have ‘coffin doors’, added because of an alleged superstition about bringing a coffin through the door used by the living. But the ones I’ve seen were all on the ground floor, because, yeah, who would bring in a coffin through an attic window?


Since when does gravity matter to someone on a flying broomstick?

You straddle a broomstick, suddenly you’re airborne, and gravity only kicks in when you tilt at an angle?


I’ve been to a few open-houses with a soul-window in a bedroom. Usually on wall above the bed, with a cross under it. Sick folk would be placed in that room and when they eventually died from ignorance, their soul would rise and escape thru the window (tiny thing, like 10"x10").

I would mention this when other people were in the room and it would creep the hell out of them. Around here many, many large tracts of land were owned by the Catholic church, everything was “Parish of St.Something” and houses getting built on those lands had to follow certain rules… one being a soul-window.

Many of the pre-1950’s houses in my 'hood have one - they tended to have higher ceilings, you weren’t meant to look out these windows… the higher & closer to God the better. Post-50’s construction with 8 foot ceilings (and general enlightenment) pretty much brought this practice to an end.


You expect any of this to make sense? Either drink the Kool-Aid or face the wrath of an always angry deity who really does love you.

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The point is not that the flying broom will fall, but that the rider will fall off the broom. The broom handle is round. Try this experiment: find a bike rack. Without stabilizing yourself with your legs, you can make a stable position on the top. Good. Now lean over at a 45 degree angle.

Pick yourself off the ground and repeat ten times. Keep track of the ten out of ten times you fell off. For , ya know, science.