Skip to content

Mapp and Lucia filmed at Lamb House

Filming equipment for BBC show Mapp and Lucia at Lamb House, East Sussex
Filming equipment for BBC show Mapp and Lucia at Lamb House | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Mapp and Lucia is a 2014 television comedy drama created for the BBC based on EF Benson’s novels about the rivalry between two women in a small village in the 1920s. Read about the experiences of those who were part of filming the show, and how Lamb House in Rye provided the perfect backdrop for its story.

The story of Mapp and Lucia

Lamb House made its small screen debut in the BBC One adaptation of EF Benson’s 1931 comic novel Mapp and Lucia. It is the fourth of six novels in the popular Mapp and Lucia series, about women in the 1920s and 1930s and their struggle for social dominance in their communities.

The author based the fictional home of the title characters called Mallards on the red brick Georgian-era Lamb House, in Rye, East Sussex, which he once lived in.

Reimagining Benson’s original literary setting

In Benson’s novels Mrs Emmeline ‘Lucia’ Lucas rents Mallards from Miss Elizabeth Mapp for the summer. The cast of the 2014 BBC adaptation revelled in retelling the story of the pair’s ensuing small-town social rivalry on screen against the authentic backdrop of Lamb House.

‘I pinched myself every day that we were in Rye in Benson's house and garden,’ said actor Steve Pemberton who played Georgie, sidekick to Anna Chancellor’s Lucia. Miranda Richardson also starred as Mapp in the three-part series.

Crew and actors take a break in filming Mapp and Lucia at Lamb House, East Sussex
Crew and actors take a break in filming Mapp and Lucia at Lamb House | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Recreating a piece of Lamb House history

Bombed during the Second World War, the garden room at Lamb House was recreated for the filming of Mapp and Lucia. The convincing set gave viewers a window into the history of the house, which was also once home to author Henry James.

‘One of Lamb House’s most memorable features was the garden room from whose large bay window Benson imagined Mapp was able to do most of her spying,’ explained events manager Katie Shaw, one of the team on set during the five-week shoot.

Places to visit with famous book locations

There are further literary connections at places the National Trust looks after including Greenway in Devon, Agatha Christie’s former home and the scene of the crime in the 1956 novel Dead Man's Folly.

We also care for Slepe Heath in Dorset, which inspired Thomas Hardy’s fictional Egdon Heath in The Return of the Native.

Supporting special places

As well as showing off beautiful locations, filming directly benefits the places in our care that star in the production. The income from location fees goes straight back into conservation work to care for historic houses and landscapes, so that we’ll all be able to see them both on screen and in real life for years to come.

You might also be interested in

A large camera on the shoulder of a person during the filming of Wolf Hall at Montacute House in Somerset

Top film locations at the National Trust 

Many of the places in our care have been locations for films and TV dramas. Hear from two of our filming and location managers as they discuss the most popular filming locations and share their best stories from behind the scenes.

A large metal cauldron in the middle of a room at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Holiday to a film location 

Fancy taking a break somewhere you've seen on screen? From The Secret Garden to Game of Thrones and Harry Potter, many of the places we care for have been filming locations for much-loved movies and TV shows.

The back of Lamb House, entrance into the garden

Lamb House 

Celebrating 300 years of history and literary connections in a stunning Georgian house

Rye, East Sussex

Fully open today
The garden path leading to the Hardy's Cottage, Dorset

Where is Thomas Hardy's Wessex? 

Thomas Hardy’s vividly imagined Wessex has enchanted readers of his novels for decades. Discover how the author brought the fictional county to life.

Four bookshelves filled with books of the second-hand bookshop at Paycocke's House, Essex

Second-hand bookshops 

Pick up a book from a second-hand bookshop to keep or share. Every purchase will raise funds for conservation projects at the places in our care.