The Cockpit, situated on Eton High Street is one of Windsor and Eton’s oldest and most historically significant buildings. Currently on Historic England’s At Risk register after falling into a state of disrepair, the derelict space is thought to date back to 1420 but has been left to deteriorate after previous efforts to restore the space ended in the developer’s bankruptcy in 2016. Fortunately, a local company has stepped in to restore The Cockpit to its former glory and has now outlined its vision for the building.
Structural Repairs of Windsor committed to buy The Cockpit, repair it, and open it as a tourist attraction late in 2021, after it was put up for sale by the official receivers.
Structural Repairs has set out future plans for the historic building this week. Calum Weeks said, “The vision is to open it how it originally operated all those years ago back in 1420, as a medieval tavern. There will also be medieval themed guest rooms. Gin and mead will be curated on site where the public will be able to experience and learn these skills in workshops. A gift shop will also be located on-site selling traditional handmade gifts and products.
“To the rear of the main Cockpit building sits another historically significant building. It has a sheep bone floor along with the village stocks and whipping post from 1756. The vision for this building is to have it as a tourist attraction, where waxworks models depicting how life would’ve been back in the medieval ages in Eton when the building first opened.”
Historical document shows that a candle maker named William West was amongst the many resident craftsmen to work at The Cockpit during its heyday. William West leased part of the building from 1661 and made tallow candles from the animal fats of the onsite butcher and abattoir. He supplied the local residents, Windsor Castle and Eton College with his candles. Once restoration work is complete, a candle making workshop will be opened onsite so visitors can learn traditional candle making skills.
Weeks added, “The Cockpit has hosted many famous people over the years. Visitors include King Charles II and his mistresses, Ian Fleming (James Bond), and many of the prime ministers educated at Eton College. We’re very excited to be taking on this project and restoring a piece of the area’s history.”
Structural Repairs are currently waiting for final permission to be granted by RBWM for work to commence. Once given, restoration will begin with the first part of the building set to open in June 2023.