Coffeesmith

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A weekend in Tilling

As we have just moved house- I thought that rather than regaling you with more pictures of boxes and empty rooms, I'd have a little throwback to May when we spent a fantastic weekend in Rye, East Sussex. 

We were in desperate need of a break and the sea was calling us. Rather than going to our usual seaside haunt of Cornwall, we decided to have a change and visit Rye. I must admit that this trip was totally inspired by the wonderful books of EF Benson, Mapp & Lucia, most of which are set in Rye- the fictional town of Tilling in the books. The books were written in the 30's but are just as relevant today. Tilling is seething with backstabbing, gossip and intrigue, mainly perpetrated by two rivals for the title of 'Queen'- Miss Elizabeth Mapp of Mallards and Mrs Emmeline Lucas (Lucia) of Riseholme (based on Broadway in Worcestershire). The books are laugh out loud funny, and a walk around the ancient citadel of Rye is a walk through their pages. 

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Mallards is the Georgian Lamb House, now owned by the National Trust and well worth a visit, if only to have a cream tea in the beautiful walled garden. 

This is the view of the church and the famous 'crooked chimney' from the panelled study- home to EF Benson but also to Henry James who also lived there for a time. There was previously a garden room with a large bay window looking out into the street. This was where Miss Mapp did much of her spying on the good folk of Tilling. Sadly it was destroyed during the war, but the fantastic tv production of Mapp and Lucia which aired last Christmas (now available on DVD!) faithfully reproduced the garden room and there are lots of props, costumes, models and photos of the sets on display at Lamb House.

Inside the dining room of the Mermaid Inn

Inside the dining room of the Mermaid Inn

The Mermaid Inn on Mermaid Street is probably the most famous of the Rye landmarks- steeped in dubious histories of smugglers, underground tunnels and murders! Here is Sophia inside the beautiful dining room.

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There is also the Ypres Tower in Rye, built in the reign of Henry III. Great fun to be had (for all ages!) climbing on the cannon!

Although the sea has retreated a little from Rye these days- it used to lap at the foot of Mermaid Street, there are still beaches nearby and we caught up with an old Witney friend who now lives in East Sussex.

On Winchelsea Beach

On Winchelsea Beach

We couldn't believe that we had never visited Rye before- it really is a perfect weekend break- great walking, tonnes of history, lovely cafes and inns (we recommend The George) and sea air. Now, back to the unpacking........