Windus was a member of a coach making family and became master of the Coachmakers' and Coach Harness Makers' Company in 1826. However, it was a medicine business that he entered, having inherited this from his grandfather in 1812. At the same time he inherited a recipe for a children's medicine called 'Godfrey's Cordial'. Windus sold this business after inheriting from his father in 1832 and it was from this time he began to concentrate on collecting art. Windus was well known for his collection of oil paintings by Turner and drawings by David Wilkie. In 1849 he began to collect work by Pre-Raphaelite artists including 'Isabella' by John Everett Millais and 'The Scapegoat' by William Holman Hunt. His collection was auctioned at Christie’s on 14–17 February 1868.