A Twitten, and the restaurant with mathmatical tiles

Church Lane is, believe it or not, a highway. However, it’s regarded in the town as one of its many twittens; a twitten being the Sussex term for a path between buildings or between a building and a hedge or wall. The name is based on ‘betwixt and between’ or, more prosaically, on the low German twiete, meaning ‘alley’.

It leads past a pleasing terrace of 17th C homes with a view across the church yard. At the end the “way” divides; the left way is a permissive path (twitten!) leading past Tansleys to Broad Street and its shops, but we turn right to pass the Church Hall towards High Street.

At the bottom has been, since 2014, Seaford’s blot on the landscape. The image shows Talland Parade’s  intended condition.

To the right of it is a red-brick faced building which is now Amie’s Kitchen. It was built in the early 19th century and is one of the few examples in Seaford of a frontage with mathematical tiles (imitating brick). These are so notably found a dozen miles up the road in Lewes, and in Brighton.  No 12 High Street (Seaford) also has mathematical tiles.

These, known also as  brick tiles, are a speciality of Lewes and Brighton although examples do occur elsewhere in the south east of England. They were first used around 1875. Timber framed buildings which could be mediaeval in origin were, in the Georgian period, felt to be unfashionable. In order to alter the look of a building the timber frame, with wattle and daub infill, would be covered by boards on to which the tiles were nailed and bedded in lime putty or mortar. If the infill was already brick the tiles were simply glued on with the lime mortar.

The introduction of mathematical tiles seems simply a fashion choice and not a device to avoid the brick tax of 1784 since the tiles were also taxed, often at a higher rate. The brick tax was a property tax introduced in Great Britain in 1784, during the reign of King George III, to help pay for the wars in the American Colonies. Bricks were initially taxed at 4 shilings (20p) per thousand.

The tiles were made from the same clay used for brickmaking, making it quite difficult to tell the difference between bricks and the mathematical tiles. There are clues however. Corner tiles were rarely made and the problem at the corner of the building was sometimes overcome by fixing vertical boards or wooden corner stones. Similar detail occurs around windows usually lacking a vertical hung course covering lintels. Originally the tiles were red, but black and cream examples exist.

The initial sale of the house in 1789 folowing advertising in the Sussex Advertiser of that year described the house as it was then as “an entiure, new, modern built freehold dwelling house complete with brewhouse!

Seaford became a limb (subordinate) of the Cinque Port of Hastings in the early 13th Century. The Cinque Ports Ports first came together in order to render Ship Service to the English Crown in return for valuable privileges, during late Saxon or early Norman times; reaching the peak of their power and prestige some 200 to 300 years later. Their naval service was last called upon in 1588.

Turn right along the High Street, away from the scaffolding. On your right is the Old House.

Talland Parade shops in all their 1960s original glory
1789 Advertisement for the building