Photo essay

Vivien Leigh’s Tickerage Mill

Posted in - photo essay, photography, travel, vivien leigh on April 19th 2011 50 Comments tickerage mill

**Warning: This post is image-heavy

I woke up this morning with every intention of going to the library and studying. Instead, Sammi Steward and I took an impromptu trip to Sussex to snap some photos of Vivien Leigh’s final resting place. The weather was perfect: 65 degrees and sunny. What better thing to do on a sunny spring afternoon than go to the countryside?

We met up at Victoria Station and boarded the next train to Croydon where we changed (and missed the hourly train to Sussex by literally 30 seconds) and headed to Uckfield. Sussex is a beautiful area. I remembered how I’d loved it when I did a summer abroad in Brighton my junior year in college. How time flies! On the train down, Sammi and I were having a discussion about Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier something or another when suddenly, the man in the seat across from us said, “I take it you’re going to Tickerage Mill?” How did he know? Apparently our indoor voices aren’t that quiet. He introduced himself as Duncan, the mayor of Uckfield. He said his in-laws very nearly bought the house next door to Tickerage Mill, and was very kind in not only telling us the easiest way to get out there, but arranged a little meeting between us and his friend who runs the Picture House cinema in town–apparently it’s one of the oldest indie theatres in England. Duncan also told us a lovely story about his friend’s claim to fame: Said friend had been up in London for work and had had a few drinks before catching the train back home. As Uckfield is the end of the line, he was roused out of his nap by a shake on the shoulder and a man saying, “I think you’re getting off at Uckfield.” The man was none other than Sir Laurence Olivier on his way to visit Vivien Leigh (conveniently, Uckfield is just between Brighton and London), and he offered Duncan’s friend a ride home in his hired car. We knew Larry went to visit Vivien on occasion!

It was quite lucky that we stopped by the Picture House before taking a cab out to Tickerage because when we got there we had trouble discerning the foot path that goes through the pastures on the outskirts of the property. Thankfully, there was a really nice man out mowing the lawn at the cottage next door and we told him what we were about, and asked how we could reach the correct path. As it turned out, he’s the owner of Tickerage Mill and was extremely generous, letting us have a walk around and snap photos. Thank you so much, Ken!

Vivien loved Tickerage Mill and it was so easy to see why. Tucked away in a little valley amidst woodlands and green pastures, the Mill is so peaceful and extremely beautiful in the spring. A courtyard with a lovely landscaped pond, and a wall covered in wisteria sits on one side of the house. It’s called Vivien’s White Garden. When in bloom, all of the flowers there are white, corresponding with Vivien’s favorite color. In the front of the house, there is a big yard with lots of wildflowers and daffodils growing here and there. Up on a little hill sits a crescent-shaped hedge with a stone bench in the middle. We were told that Vivien loved to sit there and catch the last rays of sunshine before they slipped behind the rolling hills in the distance.

On our way back, we decided to walk to Blackboys Inn for a drink and a meal. I wonder if Vivien ever went and mingled with the locals. It seems like her kind of place–or maybe it’s just my kind of place (they served Crabbie’s ginger beer, my favorite!). People in the country are so nice. Our spur-of-the-moment decision turned out to be serendipitous, and those are always the best kinds of adventures, don’t you think?

Vivien's White Garden

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As of now (50) people have had something to say...

  • Ashley - Reply

    April 19, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Wow that was very neat. Thank you for sharing it with us. It looks like you had a lot of fun. Have you ever been asked the question: Which of Vivien’s homes do you like best? If you could pick one which one would it be and why? Thanks,

    Ashley

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 19, 2011 at 9:02 am

      I honestly don’t know which one I’d choose, because now that I’ve seen/been to all of them, I quite like all of them. I love Durham Cottage. It’s adorable, in a great location in central London, etc. Notley is gorgeous (quite like Tickerage with the countryside and amazing landscaping). It’s a proper English manor. I hate that it’s all modern inside now, though. Tickerage, though, just seems really homey. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the repairs the current owners made, since everyone who lives somewhere sort of makes it their own.

      I’d say it’s a toss-up between Notley and Tickerage. They’re both beautiful places, and I can imagine myself there in the summer, running through the lanes, enjoying the lovely scenery, reading a book out on the lawn amongst the flowers. I love England!

      • Ashley - Reply

        April 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm

        I would love to see all of them. Notley looks just beautiful on the outside as all of the rest of them do from your pictures. I don’t know if I would be able to pick one either lol. As a matter of fact in my story I’m doing for Children’s Lit it takes place in London during WWII and most if not half of the story takes place at Notley. Keep the blogs coming we just love reading them:)

  • Shiroma Nathan - Reply

    April 19, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Oh Kendra these photos look absolutely gorgeous. Tickerage is heaven in spring! I can’t stop looking at them.

    What a wonderful and lucky adventure you’ve had.

    And yes she did frequent that local pub and have pink gin….I’ve made a note to drop in there and have drink and meal as well!!

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 19, 2011 at 9:04 am

      Thanks, Shiroma! It is a lovely place! And Blackboys reminds me a bit of something out of The Shire in Lord of the Rings. Lots of really old houses and buildings.

      The food at that pub is really good, and they serve proper cocktails, so win/win. I wonder if the owner remembers Vivien being there? Maybe you can inquire :)

  • sylwia - Reply

    April 19, 2011 at 6:14 am

    Oh, these photos are beautiful!!! Now can you please answer my question? Which one to choose: Notley or Tickerage?

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 19, 2011 at 9:05 am

      It’s a toss-up! They’re both lovely. I’d love to see Notley in the spring/summer, then I can get a better comparison, haha :)

      • sylwia - Reply

        April 19, 2011 at 11:41 am

        LOL ok I’ll wait. But my friend wants to go to Notley so I’ll probably go there =)

  • anna - Reply

    April 19, 2011 at 6:30 am

    oh… just wonderful!!!! the photos are amazing and the place must be stunning… One day I want to go there too! :-)

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 19, 2011 at 9:06 am

      Thanks! It really is a beautiful house, and the countryside is lovely, as well :)

  • Katy-Jo - Reply

    April 19, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I’m so jealous of all your Vivien-related excursions! It’s very beautiful there, I hope I can go one day.

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 20, 2011 at 10:49 am

      Don’t be jealous. It is beautiful, though!

  • Peter - Reply

    April 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    “Oh, to be in England/Now that April’s there…” But where are the swans of yesteryear? Didn’t Vivien have a minor dispute with a neighbor about the swans that frequented the pond back in her day?

    That’s such a wonderful post. I love the photo from the Alan Dent book and didn’t know it was on the dust jacket (I’ve only ever read a library copy sans jacket). Perhaps you had a lucky invisible guide helping to make your day so perfect (including missing that connection by thirty seconds, which made some of the other “accidental meetings” possible).

    There was a restaurant in Manhattan called Tickerage Mill back in the very late 1970s, and it had a lovely photo of Vivien on display. I ate there once with friends in my college days (having a hamburger back in my meat-eating earlier life, I think, though it was a fancier place than that implies). I’m afraid the restaurant did not last long. So much nicer for you to get to the real Tickerage Mill. Thanks for the great photographs!

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 20, 2011 at 10:54 am

      Thank you, Peter! I’m not sure about Vivien’s dispute over swans, but I know we didn’t see any in that pond. Sometimes really things that you think make your journey harder/longer yield the best results! :)

  • Sylvia Kodis - Reply

    April 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Oooooh, you lucky girl! How awesome for you! As usual breath taking photos, can’t stop looking at them!

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 20, 2011 at 10:55 am

      Thanks, Sylvia, glad you like the photos!

  • Matilde - Reply

    April 19, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I’m really so happy to have discovered this site and have found fellows fans, I’ve always wanted to do what you and your friend did,, to visit all their houses, to see English countryside in the spring..the story of Ken’s friend being awakened by Sir Laurence etc, is enchanting , out of a Dickens’s novel.Thanks you for sharing with us, you’re lovely, Kendra.

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 20, 2011 at 10:56 am

      Aww, thanks, I’m glad you’ve discovered the site and that you’re enjoying the posts! I agree, I love hearing little stories like that of people’s brushes with the rich and famous–and such lovely stories, too!

  • David - Reply

    April 19, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Kendra, this blog post absolutely made my day. I’ve never met you in person, and yet so often I find myself feeling incredibly happy for you with all the wonderful experiences you’re having. Truly, you are “living the dream” of so many Vivien & Larry fans! I do admire you for making it happen.

    Your photos are a visual feast. I’m struck by how little appears to have changed at Tickerage since Vivien’s days there. One of the shots you took with the little boat looks amazingly like the cover of the “Bouquet” book, and just as beautiful. As in all things, you’re a talented photographer.

    LOVED the story about Larry waking the man up on the train on his way to see Vivien. It does make me happy to know they continued to see one another.

    Thanks for sharing your magical day with all of us. And I’m glad to see you’re feeling well again! Now good luck as you attack those term papers.

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 20, 2011 at 10:58 am

      Thanks so much, David! I’m really glad everyone seems to like the photo essays because I love snapping pics (am hoping to upgrade to a better camera in the not-too-distant future). Tickerage is something out of a book almost. The territory helps a lot. Sussex is gorgeous and very green.

      I’m off to work on the papers as we speak!

    • Duncan - Reply

      April 20, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      Hi Kendra, It’s Duncan Bennett here! A friend of mine told me that he’d seen your site, put two and two together and realised that the Duncan in question must be me!! (Small world indeed!)

      just to put flesh on the bones of the story, the sleeping traveller who got a lift with Larry in the early sixties was a gentleman by the name of Barry Murray, a former Mayor of Uckfield and very sadly missed.
      Also, you may be interested to see the following link, which shows the Blackboys Inn at around the same period that Vivien would have known the place:
      http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=31541
      As you will see, the Inn had a number of British “showbiz” connections at that time.
      I’m glad that you were able to see the historic Picture House delivering the cutting edge of cinema technology amidst the bucolic charms of East Sussex. We are very lucky to have Kevin and his enthusiastic team in Uckfield!
      I do hope that you enjoyed your visit to Uckfield and Blackboys and hope that you and Sammi make a return visit some time. You would be most welcome.
      Kind regards,
      Duncan

      • Kendra - Reply

        April 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm

        Hi Duncan! Thanks so much for stopping by the site! Uckfield and Blackboys are really lovely towns. It was great meeting you on the train, and thanks so much for filling in some details about Barry Murray and his brush with Larry Olivier. It’s so great to hear stories like that.

        Would love to go back to East Sussex again some day.

  • Casee Marie - Reply

    April 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Ooh, amazing! Firstly, I love that you’re getting to experience all of these places that were so important in Viv’s life. I can’t imagine how connect it must make you feel to her. And then those moments like with the mayor (seriously?!) on the train and people who can tell you these stories on a whim of Viv and Larry and their very natural, very passionate everyday lives. It’s all so cool. And secondly, I love that you’re able to share these things with everyone through the blog. The pictures are absolutely amazing and it’s no wonder why Vivien so loved the place. It’s like a dream!

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 20, 2011 at 11:11 am

      Thanks, Casee! I love going to visit all of these sorts of places, not just because Viv and Larry lived there but because often times they’re just really beautiful buildings. Also, I just love meeting people who have amazing stories to tell. You can read about things in books, but hearing little things like that from a completely random person adds an extra layer of awesomeness.

      I’m really glad people seem to like the photos because I love taking them!

  • Zoe - Reply

    April 20, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    I love the red top on you, and your hair has gotten so long Kendra, its glorious! What a lovely sojourn you had. Five weeks til the convention!

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 20, 2011 at 10:41 pm

      ah! I just cut my hair with craft scissors last week, haha! It was getting really gnarly on the ends. 5 weeks, huzzah! Have you found a place to stay yet, btw?

      • Zoe - Reply

        April 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm

        The exciting life you lead! I love how you manage to bump into these people!

        I haven’t booked trains yet, eeek. I haven’t sorted accommodation either but I have family in London so I should be ok. How are the international folk getting on? More organised than me I expect!

        PS. I also packed my Hugo Vickers Vivien biography that I used for my Larry project years ago (file now sadly lost – I emailed it to you a few years ago), for him to sign. It’s a fairly tattered second hand copy, but I’m excited!

  • Meredith - Reply

    April 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    your life is so cool kbean! and is that THE boat? i can’t see how it would last 50 some years but I got a chill looking at that picture since I had the one of vivien in the boat in mind.

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm

      Yeah, I’m thinking it’s not the same boat because wouldn’t it have rotted by now? I don’t know the properties of wood, lol. But it is really lovely!

      • Meredith - Reply

        April 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm

        maybe the fact that vivien was once in it gave it magical pixie properties. ;)

        • Kendra - Reply

          April 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm

          That sounds scientific enough to me!

  • Stephanie Pelfrey - Reply

    April 24, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Kendra,
    I feel as though I am living vicariously through you!!
    If I ever make it to England (note I will have to get over my fear of heights and flying first) I have a list of places that I wish to see, and Tickerage Mill is one of them! Thank you for sharing your adventures and pictures with us, without you, these are things I would probably never get to see!!
    Stephanie

    • Kendra - Reply

      April 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm

      Aww, just pop a sleeping pill for the flight over and you won’t even notice! Seriously, though, Tickerage is beautiful. I hope you get to see it some day!

  • Shiela - Reply

    April 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Hi!
    This is my first time posting here. And I absolutely adore your blog, by the way.
    I have to say, I’m incredibly jealous that you live in England (I’m stuck in the nyc metropolitan area), and you get to visit all these amazing places. I’m such a Vivien fan and I really enjoyed these photos. They’re beautiful. You’re so very lucky.

    You’re beautiful, by the way.

    -shiela

    • Kendra - Reply

      May 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm

      Hi Shiela,

      Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment! I’m glad you are enjoying the site/blog. NYC is only a hop across the pond; you can probably find a reasonably priced ticket!

  • Iris - Reply

    May 5, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Wow! that is amazing! we are stationed in England and ever since I’ve seen GWTH, Waterloo Bridge and Streetcar named Desire, I’ve been a fan of Vivien Leigh. I read that a lot of her letters to Laurence Olivier are at the British Museum. I think it would be really neat to read them! Her handwriting was a bit like mine tho. Anyhow, maybe I can weedle my husband into taking me to Uckfield to see her Tickerage Mill. People seem so nice on your travels.

  • IAN PAYNE - Reply

    May 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I am doing a project on VL at TM at present – these are wonderful pics and I hope to go down there myself this Summer. It is the best way to see things by just going on a trip last minute. I met Bob Hope that way in foyer at Savoy Horel in 1981.

    A friend of a friend of mine wrote one of first bio’s on VL ever.

  • Lynn - Reply

    May 11, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Hi kendra, beautiful photos and Tickerage looks so peaceful. I am going to try and get to see it at the end of May, whilst enroute to my brothers wedding.

  • Diane - Reply

    May 22, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Kendra you are so beautiful yourself!
    Thanks for the photos!

  • Year end wrap-up 2011 - Reply

    December 30, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    [...] Visiting Tickerage Mill — Sometimes the best things happen when you least expect them. When my friend and fellow Viv and Larry fan Sami and I decided to take a spur-of-the-moment trip to Sussex in search of Vivien Leigh’s country home, we never expected to bump into the owner and be invited inside the gates to snap photos. It was a beautiful house and property with a very peaceful atmosphere. It’s no wonder Vivien loved it. [...]

  • gardenboy - Reply

    August 29, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Went there myself over the weekend…was in the area,so checked it out.
    I must say I can see its appeal,very secluded and very quiet and also not at all ostentatious.
    Visited the pub nearby,very pretty…but the beer was flat, arggggh!!

  • Rusty - Reply

    September 6, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Thankyou so much for these beautiful pages. They are really marvellous.

  • Bex - Reply

    February 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Just found this site after watching Streetcar Named Desire on my old movie channel. We are Anglophiles stuck living across the Pond in Salem, Mass., USA, but have been to the UK 8 times, usually going to Yorkshire which is our “home from home” at least in our hearts. One visit we were keeping an eye out for our hero, “James Herriot” the vet, and on the last day of our trip he drove up and stepped out of his car right in front of our cottage and walked his dogs down the farm lane! His son lived 2 doors down and he was going there for supper! We met him and chatted with him and he signed our Herriot books – incredible. Your experience with meeting Duncan and getting to go inside Tickerage Mill is wonderful. I miss England so much and would love to see Sussex someday.

  • Daniele - Reply

    March 7, 2013 at 4:49 am

    Hi, Kendra!
    My God, I’m thrilled! How amazing Tickerage is! I must say you were nearer Vivien in such wonderful place!
    The pictures are so freshful and gorgeous, just like Viv.
    Best wishes,
    Daniele.

  • Stella - Reply

    May 11, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    What a lovely post, and a lovely day. Serendipitous, indeed! I lived in the UK for four years, but never made it to Tickerage Mill. Maybe I’ll stop on my way to Brighton from London next month, since you’ve pointed out how convenient it is. Thanks so much for posting these photos.

  • Lynn - Reply

    July 10, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Lovely photos. I had the privilege of living in the cottage in the grounds of Tickerage when I worked for Joan Voss who bought the estate after Vivien died. I was there for about 2 years in the late 90’s. It is a beautiful house and set in lovely grounds. Whilst we were there the estate was badly flooded one autumn, the house had over a foot of water through it, our cottage just escaped damage but the grounds suffered badly. The sluice gates were manually operated then and we were out in the middle of the night lifting them to try and lower the lake. Much of the house then was still very similar to when Vivien lived there, I saw several photos of her in her home. The actor Robert Newton lived in the cottage and there are many tales of him taking his horse and cart to the Inn and also living up to his character of Long John Silver and staggering down the lane bellowing loudly! I had curtains and a few items of furniture that belonged to Vivien and was given a wardrobe when I left after Joan Voss died. Sadly it had bad woodworm but I kept the mirrored door and still have it now. I loved living there, it was so peaceful and for a keen gardener like myself it was paradise.

  • Peter Thompson-Denning - Reply

    December 14, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Hi I’ve just bought your book on Vivien Leigh and it’s gorgeous. I also have a few other books including Alan Dent’s. I was just nosing around on the net looking for what happened to her Mill country home and found you. So thanks for producing such a classy, sensitive and beautiful book that does justice to such a wonderful lady. xxx

  • Tabitha - Reply

    December 29, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Kendra,

    Thank you for the beautiful photos where Vivien lived. I would love to go and see it.
    Looks like I will have to make another trip to UK.

    I hope the owners of where Vivien lived won’t mind.

  • Terence Pepper - Reply

    August 14, 2014 at 8:37 am

    just came across this fascinating post with the wealth of beautiful photographs and fascinating comments..is there any news of who the new owner of the Mill might be? loved hearing that Viv’s mirrored door from the house still survives in a private collection

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