Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hitum, Titum or scrub

Disclaimer: If you have never read or heard of Mapp and Lucia, nor seen it on dvd, it is set in the 1920's and is about the cut and thrust of social supremacy in a small village. Delightful and hilarious stuff. Think P G Wodehouse with an extra 50 IQ points and better female characters. I have all of the books and the DVDs of the fab TV series made in the 1980's, for anyone who is interested. 
These are the three dress codes in Tilling, the village brought to us through the pages of Mapp and Lucia and E F Benson's other fabulous Lucia books. Hitum was for dinner parties, Titum for formal day occasions and Scrub was whatever you are wearing at the time.
Rye, a stunning village on the South Coast of England, is indeed the Tilling of the books. Now that I have been there myself it is so apparent, and the TV series filmed in 1983-87 used the village, although they changed things a bit - choosing different houses from the ones in the book because of accessibility, photogenicness etc.
Rye has Hitum, Titum and Scrub all of its own.
Moi on Mermaid Street, still cobbled and featuring some of the prettiest teashops, houses and guest houses a girl could ever dream of.
The Bell, 14thC Inn on The Mint (Rye is short on Streets and long on evocative names like The Mint, Wish Ward etc)
or possibly Tightum: the steps up to the top of the church tower. I did not take this picture - David made the climb and had to turn sideways sometimes to do it, which pretty much put me out of the picture for fitting up the stairs! I am very impressed that Mapp ever made it herself, in search of evidence to condemn Lucia's pretences at Italian and reclaim her position as Queen of Tilling. It failed of course.
Rye had the best op shops and antique shops of anywhere I've been and I purchased quite a hoard. Some treasures though I left behind included these lovely tapestries in the window of a shop

 Early 2oth C sampler of sorts.
 Far more modern and far cheaper, but still pretty.

I feel I should revert to Hitum for the last image, which is of Lamb House; the Mallards of the books. It is not that impressive from the outside, being jammed into a corner like that, however the wall is to its impressive garden and it has been the home of Henry James and E F Benson over the years.
I have pinched a photo of it from the other side off the National Trust website, I'm sure they won't mind:
It was not open when we were there, such a pity. Can you imagine the garden parties on this lawn?!
And of course, it is from Rye/Tilling that I have brought away the piece of art that I will wear forever more...but more on that later!
Lucia may even have approved. Mapp definitely would not.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful scenes from history but still alive. I really enjoy your blog.