Classic Films

The view of Henry James’ Garden at Lamb House, Rye

The view of Henry James’ Garden at Lamb House, Rye
godfather figure
Image by UGArdener
Lamb House is an 18th-century house situated in Rye, East Sussex, and is in the ownership of the National Trust. The house has literary connections. Henry James moved into Lamb House in 1897 when he was 55 years old, lived there until 1916, and wrote his three late novels there: The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903), and the Golden Bowl (1904).
The house was later occupied by E.F. Benson and Rumer Godden. Benson writes lovingly of both garden and house, renamed "Mallards", in his "Mapp and Lucia" novels. The publisher Sir Brian Batsford, the literary agent Graham Watson and the writers John Senior and Sarah Philo have also held the tenancy in recent times.
Some of James’s personal possessions can be seen in the house, which is administered and maintained on the Trust’s behalf by its current tenant.
Lamb House is the subject of Joan Aiken’s novel The Haunting of Lamb House which is comprised of three novellas about residents of the house at different times, including James himself.
The house was built in 1722 by James Lamb, a wine merchant and Mayor of Rye. In 1726, a storm drove the ship of King George I on to Camber Sands and Lamb offered his own bed to the King, even though Lamb’s own pregnant wife gave birth that night while a heavy snow kept the King stranded in Rye. The King served as godfather to the baby, named George, of course, and gave a christening present of a sliver bowl and 100 guineas. The house was then owned by other Lamb descendants until 1864.
After Henry James took out a 21 year lease in 1897, he extensively redecorated it, filled it with his books, Whistler etchings, Burne Jones paintings, and portraits of writers he liked like Flaubert. Distinguished figures such as Edith Wharton, H. G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, Stephen Crane, Rudyard Kipling, and others too numerous to mention were frequent guests.