Mapp and Lucia Wikia

Tilling is a fictional coastal town, based on Rye, East Sussex, in the Mapp and Lucia novels of Edward Frederic Benson (1867–1940).

Town in the novels of E F Benson[]

Tilling takes it name from the River Tillingham which flows through Rye. Benson himself moved to Rye in 1918, where he lived in Lamb House, former home of the novelist, Henry James. Benson was mayor of Rye 1934-7 and was elected Speaker of the Cinque Ports in 1936.

Tilling first appeared in Miss Mapp (1922) and subsequently in The Male Impersonator and Desirable Residences (short stories of 1929), Mapp and Lucia (1931), set between June 1930 and the spring of 1931, in which Emmeline Lucas ("Lucia") and Elizabeth Mapp clashed for the first time, Lucia's Progress (1935) and Trouble for Lucia (1939). The novelist Susan Leg, the subject of Secret Lives (1932), re-appeared in Trouble for Lucia. In the final Benson Lucia book Trouble for Lucia Tilling seems to be no longer in Sussex but in Hampshire.


Lamb House was the model for "Mallards", the home initially of Elizabeth Mapp and subsequently of Lucia, who renamed it Mallards House.

Cynthia & Tony Reavell (1984) E F Benson: Mr Benson remembered in Rye, and the World of Tilling contained a map of Tilling that drew on references in the books and the layout of Rye itself. A similar plan was reproduced in Holt's novels. In some instances, the street names of Tiling and Rye coincided – for example, High Street (the location of Godiva Plaistow's house, "Wasters") and West Street ("Quaint" Irene Coles' "Taormina") – but there were some variations: Mermaid Street became, in Tilling, Porpoise Street (where Algernon and Susan Wyse lived); Market Road was Malleson Street (Woolgar & Pipstow, the estate agents); and Watchbell Street was Curfew Street (the Trader's Arms). In Rye a lookout, presented by Benson when he was mayor in 1935, stands towards the River Rother and Camber, with a plaque noting that its donor had "immortalised" the town as Tilling through his books.


Main Article: Locations

  • Riseholme - the town formerly inhabited by Lucia and Georgie
  • Mallards (later Mallard House) - Elizabeth Mapp's house, rented to Lucia for summer
  • Mallards Cottage - initially rented and then purchased by Georgie Pillson. The house belonged to the Wyse family.
  • Taormina - the home of Irene Coles, rented to Diva for the summer.
  • Starling Cottage - the home of Algernon and Susan Wyse.
  • Major Benji House
  • Wasters - the home of Godiva 'Diva' Plaistow, rented to Elizabeth Mapp for the summer.
  • Grebe - lovely small house bought by Lucia after moving to Tilling.
  • Ypres Tower
  • Worthington
  • The Trader’s Arms - local hotel.


This page contains material originally appeared on Tilling (Sussex) on