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Author Topic: Down here in darkest Lewes we have things called 'Twittens'. Does anybody know w  (Read 7816 times)

Offline P-Kasso2

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Down here in darkest Lewes we have things called 'Twittens'. Does anybody know where this weird word came from?

Does anybody know why they are called 'Twittens'?

Here's some pictures of twittens...there are loads in Lewes.


Essentially they are ancient alleyways...mercifully they are old survivors from ancient Saxon walkways between rows of houses. Like a cut through.

Usually they have beautiful 900-odd-year-old 12 foot high ancient flint stone walls. And equally unusually they are so narrow you have to walk sideways.

Strange word 'Twitten'.

Brighton is full of them too. But they are much more Georgian rather than Saxon.

Where does this word 'Twitten' come from?

Never heard of it anywhere else. But surely other ancient towns in Britain must have their equivalents? By a different name perhaps?
« Last Edit: 28 May, 2017, 07:47:23 PM by P-Kasso2 »
"I live in hope"


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Twitten is an old Sussex dialect word, used in both East and West Sussex, for a path or alleyway. It is still in common use.[1] The word is also in common use in the London residential area known as Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Elsewhere in the country, such alleyways are termed twitchells (north-west Essex, east Hertfordshire and Nottingham), chares (north-east England), ginnels (northern England), opes (Plymouth), jiggers (Liverpool), gitties (Derbyshire and Leicestershire), snickelways (York) and vennels (Scotland).

In the Netherlands tussen has a similar meaning.


This link says that it's a corruption of 'Betwixt and between':

[edit] Etymology
Corruption of betwixt and between.

There are lot of words or expressions that are only used in certain places:-

« Last Edit: 23 December, 2010, 07:21:06 PM by imfeduptoo »

Offline AtMyWitzEnd

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According to the “Dictionary of the Sussex dialect and collection of provincialisms in use in the county of Sussex” (Published in Lewes in 1875!) A Twiten is a narrow path between two walls or hedges, especially on hills. For example, small passageways leading between two buildings to courtyards, streets, or open areas behind.

This is shown in the list  “Shoreham-by-Sea & Sussex: Colloquial Words” on the British Marine Life Study Society Website (no, I don’t see the connection either) as coming from the Old English and derived from the German word ‘Twiete’ meaning alleyway.

In , these alleys are known as twitchells andThis Website stresses that the word twitchells, used in north-west Essex, east Hertfordshire and Nottingham for this type of alley, is from the Old English origin twicen and not directly related to Twiten although they sound similar.


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A theory (with some justification) I have is that the word is related to the modern German word "Zwischen" meaning "Between".

Offline Altom

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Thanks for explaining the meaning of this word. I've heard a few older people use it in my area and I had no idea what they were talking about.