the little old house

March 13, 2011

In Lewes, on a corner where West Street cuts across Market Street, is a little old house, or perhaps I should say building, that was a shop years ago. 

This house, as I know someone lives there, has the feeling that it is just hanging on to itself. Some work appears to be happening but, after 6 years, it still looks much the same – this is sort of comforting for those looking on and not having to live in it.  The glazed tiles or bricks that clad many of the buildings here were used as an alternative to brickwork in 18/early 19C when a tax was laid on bricks.  

The feeling that it is just hanging on is implied not only because of the boarded up windows, bits of tarp that cover openings and general air of ‘the builders are in’ (although in this case, I surmise that the work is being done by the resident) but also as the traffic continues to pile down the West Street in a relentless fashion – and this is only Sunday. Took me 10 minutes to take a picture! Poor house with foundations now pummelled by 21 C vehicles as against the odd horse and cart. It retains an air of silence and resilience.

The door looks fragile. Slim and modest proportions for the side entrance. Just round the corner in Market Street  a neighbouring house has received a make over. It almost hangs on to the original character of its architecture. Much thought must have gone into the choice of colour for door and wall render. Any further buffing up may well destroy it completely. 


I’m fond of the little corner house and sort of hope that it won’t receive too much gentrification. It looks as though that won’t be a problem as long as present inhabitant stays even if they ever manage to complete the work. Anyway, the neighbours have been generous in choosing door paint to match the tarp on the windows. Can’t be simply a coincidence.

My father used to say,
“Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow’s grave
nor the glass flowers at Harvard.
Self reliant like the cat —
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse’s limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth —
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech
by speech which has delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint.”
Nor was he insincere in saying, “`Make my house your inn’.”
Inns are not residences.   Marianne Moore   Silence

2 Responses to “the little old house”

  1. elizabeth Says:

    Loved this little house and wish to purchase it immediately…….!
    I always liked Lewes, and have a sort of horror of Brighton which always makes
    me feel distinctly uncomfortable.
    Lewes will be on my itinerary when I next come to England.
    I spent two interesting years living in Telscombe, a tiny village in
    the downs.

  2. julia fogg Says:

    Never heard of Telscombe so just looked it up – near Rodmell and all that happened there – did it inspire you? Drop by for cup of T when you’re next down here.

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