Nan Kemp’s Corner near Lewes in Sussex, said to be the burial place of local woman Nan Kemp who, in 18th Century, was said to have killed her illegitimate child and fed him in a pie to her husband. The story has many versions, which are the subject of the film being made by the protagonist in Bridget Penney’s novel Licorice, currently our Book of The Month.
A now-nearly-illegible sign reading “Nan Kemp’s Corner” is all that remains to mark the site of this grisly Sussex legend of infanticide, cannibalism and rough justice . In the 17th and into the 18th centuries, people who died by suicide were usually buried at a crossroads (often, some histories tell us, with a stake driven through their heart, though it’s unclear that this was common practice in reality). The legend of Nan Kemp has it that she murdered her newborn baby, baked it into a pie and fed the pie to her husband, although local historians say the real story was a more prosaic and tragic one. The legend was likely embellished from the fact that she hid the baby’s body in the oven before committing suicide.
Licorice draws on and upends folk horror tropes the story of an ill-fated film production based on the story of Nan Kemp. As the shoot descends into chaos, both the text and its protagonists grow increasingly tense and uneasy. See below for some review quotes, and order Licorice before midnight on 30 November for a 30% discount.
top: the sign is now worn and difficult to decipher, but Patrick Davies uploaded this photo, taken in 1981, to their Flickr account.
bottom: a more recent image of the crossroads at which Nan was thought to have been buried, also from Flickr.