American novelist Henry James discovered the house by chance and bought it in 1899. He wrote several novels here and entertained peers such as H. G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, G. K. Chesterton and Ford Madox Ford. The ground floor rooms contain some of James's furniture, pictures, personal possessions, photographs and letters.
Lamb House has one of the largest walled gardens in the old town of Rye; it was designed by Alfred Parsons. The Campsis still climbs the wall as it did in James’ time; there are roses, lilies, spring bulbs and many herbaceous varieties bordering the lawn. Also in the garden are the graves of James’ much loved dogs. Today the garden is a tranquil refuge for visitors and local people alike.
A noteable tenant
Margaret Rumer Godden, OBE (1907-1998): was an author of more than sixty books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her first best-seller was in 1939 for the novel: Black Narcissus and she won the Whitbread Award in 1972 for her novel: The Diddakoi.
Rumer Godden was the tenant of Lamb House from 1968-1973.
Sir Brian Caldwell Cook Batsford (1910-1991), better known as Brian Cook, designed book dust jackets, with distinctive vibrant covers, from the 1930s to the 1950s. He was also a painter, publisher, a Member of Parliament and was knighted in 1974.
Sir Brian was the tenant of Lamb House from 1980-1987.
When you visit us, take a look at the varied books we have on offer.
We stock a wide range of reading by associated authors who visited or lived at the house. The garden on a fine day is the perfect place to sit a while and bury your head in your new purchase.