Lamb House at literary heart of Mapp and Lucia

Filming for a 2014 BBC adaptation of EF Benson's Mapp and Lucia stories at Lamb House, East Sussex

Lamb House makes its small screen debut in the BBC One adaptation of EF Benson’s comic novels ‘Mapp and Lucia’. Benson based ‘Mallards’, the fictional home of the books’ title characters, on the red brick Georgian house in Rye in 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 BBC adaption 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 the actor Steve Pemberton who plays Georgie, sidekick to Anna Chancellor’s Lucia. Miranda Richardson stars as Mapp in the three-part series.

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 gives viewers a window into the history of the house, which was also once home to the 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,’ explains events manager Katie Shaw, one of the staff and volunteers on set during the five-week shoot.

Exploring literary connections

Visitors to Lamb House will be able to find out more about the making of Mapp and Lucia thanks to a small display made possible as the result of location fees for the filming. The house also has personal possessions belonging to Henry James on show.

There are further literary connections at places we look after including Greenway in Devon, Agatha Christie’s former home and the scene of the crime in '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.

Mapp and Lucia aired on BBC One from 29-31 December 2014.