Knaresborough’s Painted Windows

painted windows in Knaresborough town centre pink door and window

In the town of Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, there are some old houses with unusual windows.

You can find them dotted all around the town and tracking them all down is a great activity to keep the kids entertained, my main advice is to keep looking up, just try not to bump into anything!

Let us know how many you find.

The windows aren’t really there.

The paintings were called trompe l’oeil, or “deceive the eye,” because they were meant to fool people into thinking there was a real window there.

In 1786, King George III raised taxes to help pay for a war against France. One of the taxes was a window tax. This tax was supposed to be paid by everyone who owned property with windows, but it created problems because many people couldn’t afford to pay it. It was also difficult for landlords and tenants to agree on how much the windows would cost.

A lot of people decided not to pay the tax at all so they painted their windows black instead!

Since most houses didn’t have many windows, having a painted one helped make your house look nicer and also allowed you to avoid paying extra taxes on windows.

In the present day you’ll see the windows have become more like pieces of street art featuring famous faces such as Mother Shipton, Guy Fawkes, Marilyn Monroe and even Harry Potter. Who do you recognise?

If you are heading into Knaresborough to look for street art, we highly recommend having a look around Knaresborough Castle too.

Have fun!

Claire x