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The Weird History of the Stairlift

Gremlins, Henry VIII and Obese Dogs: 7 Interesting Facts About Stairlifts

Q. Which famous historical figure used an early version of the stairlift?

Q. What iconic ’80s monster movie had a stairlift scene?

Q. How did a stairlift manage to offend fans of a travel website?

Stairlifts are practical, they can even be life-changing, but they’re not exactly “fun.”

Still, they’ve had their moments in the spotlight over the years. Here are a few things you might not know about them.

history of the stairlift

The “Stairthrone”

By most accounts, the first stairlift was used by Henry VIII of England in the mid 1500s. It was really more of a “stairthrone,” used to get the overweight king up and down the steps of Whitehall Palace in London.

For much of his life, Henry was quite athletic. But when he was 44, he suffered a serious leg injury while jousting. His health began to decline, while his weight increased. By the time Henry was in his 50s, he had a 52 inch waist (according to records of his armor).

That’s where the stairthrone – described in royal records as “a chair…that goeth up and down” – comes into play. British documentarian David Starkey found evidence of the chair when researching Henry VIII. He says servants would have used a block and tackle system to lift the king up and down.

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