photo essay photography travel vivien leigh

Vivien Leigh’s 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

Kendra has been the weblady at since 2007. She lives in Yorkshire and is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, and co-author of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies (Running Press). Follow her on Twitter @kendrajbean, Instagram at @vivandlarrygram, or at her official website.

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Comments (58)

  1. 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,


    1. 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!

      1. 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:)

  2. 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!!

    1. 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 🙂

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

  4. oh… just wonderful!!!! the photos are amazing and the place must be stunning… One day I want to go there too! 🙂

  5. “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!

    1. 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! 🙂

  6. 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.

    1. 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!

  7. 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.

    1. 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!

    2. 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:
      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,

      1. 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.

  8. 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!

    1. 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!

  9. 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!

    1. 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?

      1. 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!

  10. 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.

    1. 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!

  11. 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!!

    1. 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!

  12. 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.


    1. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!!

  17. 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.

  18. 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,

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

      1. She was quite a woman, a tiny little lady but an incredibly strong character. I liked her and got on very well with her.
        Sadly she did fall down the stairs and died. I can’t remember fully but I believe they thought she may have had a stroke. It was unexpected though as she had been in pretty good health, I had worked in the house the day before and she was ok then.

  21. 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

  22. 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.

  23. just came across this fascinating post with the wealth of beautiful photographs and fascinating 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

  24. I have some interesting memories of VL at Tickeridge and Blackboys in Sussex which I correlatd for a project in 2011, which I will now send onto you Kendra [see an e-mail I sent you]. I am now doing a massive memories project on Diana Dors, and in the end decided you were the Queen of all things VL and wouldn’t compete with your great awesome work [your website is amazing] !!

  25. One account in writing that I never forgot from 2011 [I heard it verbally as well, so fact may be hazy] was when VL boarded a train not long after she had started to live at Tickerage Mill, and not long after the split with Larry.

    VL became interested in the child of the lady telling me the story, chatting t and with him and giving him sweets, telling the lady that her young son was a lovely child, etc. She also got into brief chatter with the lady in question, asking her where she was off to, the weather, where she had been, her plans for the day, etc.

    She then got off the train at the stop nearest her house/home [was it pre-Beeching days I wonder?] and the lady suddenly noticed [as VL’s profile hit the daylight as the train door opened] thatshe was wearing a dark coloured outfit, rather miss-matched style wise, not the sort of thing the former stylish actress from GONE WITH THE WIND would wear. More than that she noticed quite a few holes in her tights and some in the upper and lower parts of her clothing.

    In todays world one would say they looked like clothes bought from a charity shop, then it would be a second-hand shop, or were they ones that had always been in VL’s collection, but perhaps were now old and out of fashion, or had spent too many years in a cupboard being eaten by moths and time, et al. We will never know.

    An interesting story!

  26. Memory 2 and 3 about VL at Tickerage from locals who live there now [for a project I was going to do in 2011 but never got round to] :

    1] “Hi Ian

    Originally Tickeridge was the correct spelling, it originally was the name of “a ridge where the goats are” and the stream that runs along the valley was named after it. Apparently the name goes back to before Domesday. Nowadays most local people spell it as Tickerage. The house itself was apparently built as an “Iron Masters house” back in the 16th or 17th century but there was possibly a “farm dwelling” on the same site previously.

    There is another “literary connection” with Tickerage in that a certain Richard Wyndham lived there “between the wars”. He is worth Googling, he was a writer, possibly a spy, and notorious for his parties hekd at Tickerage. He used to fly guests in using his private plane and landing strip, it is said that Mr Moseley used to be among his guests . He was also notorious locally for not paying his workers on time. His book about Southern England includes memories of how he first found the house.
    We have often wondered if there was a connection between his glamorous guests and VL wanting to live there.”

    2] “Hello again Ian

    I mentioned your quest for info etc at our meeting last night and I have another story for you about when VL lived at Tickerage. This comes from a member of the society and he thinks he is the only one of the group still surviving.

    Some local lads were in the pub one evening (probably the Blackboys Inn but it might have been the Crown). Somebody apparently mentioned that it was Vivien Leigh’s birthday and as some of the them were members of a local band (silver or brass?) one of them had the bright idea of going down to Tickerage to play “Happy Birthday” to her. One or two phone calls were made to “musician friends” and they went down to Tickerage and knocked on the door and then proceeded to play to her. The instruments included at least one trumpet and a trombone but our friend couldn’t remember what the others were. He also couldn’t remember what her reaction was! Apparently they discovered afterwards that VL only opened the door to them because she thought it might be Lauirence Olivier as it was at the time that they were “breaking up.

    Several members had seen your letter in the Sussex Express and one or two are going to contact people they think might have some more info or even photos. Most of them were really surprised to know that VL was involved with the Cricket Club.”

  27. I have read that dirk bogarde the actor found tickeridge mill for Vivien Leigh after her divorce from Laurence Olivier. I think he was a friend of hers. Robert newton the actor lived there previously and also Oliver messel the designer who was Anthony Armstrong jones uncle i believe.

  28. Dear Kendra.
    I stumbled across your site by the way of seeing the very beautiful Tickerage mill for sale in 2015. Unfortunately I have just found some recent photographs of it and it has been aesthetically destroyed. I am shocked that anyone could have done this to such a perfect location. From Gone with the wind to Big brother in the blink of an eye.
    On a happier note. Keep up the good work. Best Regards. PM.

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