What's inside Suffolk's wonkiest house?

The Crooked House is one of Lavenham's most iconic buildings

The Crooked House is one of Lavenham's most iconic buildings - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Lavenham is undoubtedly one of Suffolk’s pride and joys. This quaint village, located in the south of the county, is known the world over for its well-preserved Tudor-era buildings.  

One of its most iconic structures, The Crooked House, is under new ownership. And boy, do its new owners have some big ideas for it. 

Meet Alex and Oli Khalil-Martin. Originally from London, the duo met online during lockdown, and together purchased the listed home – which they have since turned into an events, antiques and interiors business. 

Explaining his relationship with the historic property, Alex says: “I first saw The Crooked House back in 2018 and fell in love with it. When I came here, back when it was a tea room, I thought it would make the most amazing house.” 

Alex and Oli Khalil-Martin, owners of The Crooked House in Lavenham 

Alex and Oli Khalil-Martin, owners of The Crooked House in Lavenham - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Who knew that just four years later, he’d be living there with the love of his life?  

“Oli and I met in lockdown, and we got chatting about our lives and what they could be like one day. We both knew we wanted to move into The Crooked House, but when we retired.” 

But as working from home became more commonplace thanks to the pandemic, their dreams looked like they could become a reality sooner than expected.  

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“I don’t want to say we were fortunate, as it was a difficult time for everyone, but because of the pressure that Covid put on the high street, it was a quieter time on the market,” he says. 

Because of this, The Crooked House soon became theirs, and the two moved in and eagerly put their own touches it – while retaining much of its 600-year character. 

“It was very much a dream come true when the house came on the market. It’s such a unique house, there isn’t another like it or as crooked. Even the layout is perfect for us – it's got these big entertaining spaces and we can’t wait to share them with everyone. 

The Crooked House is filled with a variety of antiques spanning many time periods

The Crooked House is filled with a variety of antiques spanning many time periods - Credit: Charlotte Bond

“I’m an interior designer by profession, so it’s been fantastic decorating and renovating the space. It’s a listed building so we were conscious of that, and made sure we were looking after it in the best way possible. So there’s been a bit of restoration but a lot was done in the 1980s, so there was nothing structurally that we wanted to do,” he says.  

The duo say they’ve had fun making The Crooked House their own, and when you step inside, you can definitely see the mix of historical, preserved elements combined with more contemporary touches.  

“We’ve covered the Elizabethan chamber with tapestries and filled it with furniture as well as old and modern art. It’s a very special place and definitely has a theatrical feel to it,” he says.  

Theatrical is right, which is why the home is now open to the public as an events venue.  

Alex with one of his paintings

Alex with one of his paintings - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Available for corporate away-days and team-building, private parties, private dining events, and film and photography location hire, The Crooked House is not only an opportunity to showcase this wonderful home for all to see – but for Alex and Oli to play host now the world has opened back up again.  

“It’s exciting for us as we love meeting new people - we’re both very social and love entertaining. Oli is also a brilliant cook, so we’ve been hosting our Crooked Club Dinners.” 

Think home cooked fare, fizz, and a black tie dress code. 

“People come from all over – Lavenham is such a lovely place, so they make a weekend of it and see everything there is to do here. 

“But lots of locals have been joining us too, and we’ve made so many friends and had tonnes of support since moving here which has been great.” 

Some of the antiques on display in The Crooked House

Some of the antiques on display in The Crooked House - Credit: Charlotte Bond

During the day, The Crooked House is a hub for all things antique. Alex runs a showroom which is open by appointment only.  

“It’s a complete mix. I’ve usually focussed on the late Georgian regency furniture but as the house is 600 years old, we thought it deserved a range of features spanning all time periods.  

“We’ve got medieval pieces, as well as antiques all the way through the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, and some modern-day decorative accessories as well. I’m a painter as well, so we’ve hung some big, abstract paintings up which contrast with the old furniture to make it feel like a vibrant space. We don’t want it to feel like a museum – it's more so a collection of pieces that reflect our personalities.” 

Not only does the house reflect the couple to a tee throughout – it's also where they began their journey into married life as they also wed there in December 2021.  

“It was amazing, as the house is such an important part of our lives. We got engaged on our one-year anniversary, and it’s where we’re going to be for our whole lives, so it seemed appropriate to do the wedding here.” 

Alex and Oli have only been there for couple of years – but they’ve already got their entire future mapped out.  

“There’s so many exciting things we can do with the house, and we’re buzzing to be here. We’re looking at lots of different ways to share the house. As well as the supper club, we’re looking into musical recitals, literary clubs, and lots of things for people to come and enjoy.  

“It will evolve over the years with us, and there’s some things we’ll do we haven’t even imagined yet. We’ve just ordered some Tudor costumes – we're going to be the eccentrics of the village, but in a great way.” 

To find out more, visit crookedhouselavenham.com