Kent TN30 7NG
Smallhythe Place near Tenterden in south-east England is a picturesque early 16th century half-timbered house. For thirty years it was the home of the famous Victorian actress, Ellen Terry and is now a museum.
Dame Ellen Terry's own Theatrical Collection
On display is Dame Ellen’s own wonderful theatrical collection as well as some of her fabulous costumes. Visitors can see such ephemera as the monocle worn by Sir Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert & Sullivan fame; a letter from Oscar Wilde begging Dame Ellen to accept a copy of his first play; a message from Sarah Bernhardt and a visiting card from Alexander Dumas. There are two walls devoted to mementoes of David Garrick and Sarah Siddons.
Dame Ellen’s acting career lasted nearly seventy years. In 1878 she joined Sir Henry Irving’s company at the Lyceum Theatre as his leading lady, and for more than twenty years she was considered the leading Shakespearean and comic actress in Britain.
It was in the late 1890s, on a visit with Henry Irving, that Ellen Terry first saw and fell in love with Smallhythe Place but she had to wait until 1899 before it came up for sale and she could acquire it. She lived in the house until her death in 1928.
In the 15th and 16th centuries Smallythe was a busy local shipyard. The house was built shortly after 1514 as an office for the local Harbour Master. It is a timber framed house of a continuous jetty style built with two-storey accommodation using green oak cut from the local forest. There are carved spandrels in the fine doorways but the interior shows none of the ostentatious moulding and crown-posts that were a sign of a well-to-do owner. The roof is of crown post construction and tiled.
Smallhythe's shipbuilding heritage is the subject of a fascinating exhibition.
Delightful Rose Garden and Barn Theatre
The grounds surrounding Smallhythe Place include Dame Ellen’s delightful rose garden, orchard, nuttery and the working Barn Theatre. Visitors are welcome to walk to the top garden, sit in the gazebo and see the old well and rose arch.
Whilst in Smallhythe, why not also visit Tenterden Vineyard Park, South of England Rare Breeds Centre, Woodchurch Village Life Museum and Woodchurch Windmill.
A number of varied events are held at Smallhythe Place including children’s theatre, Web: Events at Smallhythe Place External Link
The popular Smallhythe Music and Beer Festival is held in September.
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Booking.com here: External Link
End of February to end of October.
For up to date details visit the Smallhythe Place National Trust website, link below.
National Trust members free
For up to date prices visit the Smallhythe Place National Trust website, link below.
- Building Access:
2 steps to entrance, ramp available. Ground floor has steps, uneven floors. Stairs to other floors. There is a photo album showing the upstairs rooms for those unable to ascend the stairs.
- Grounds Access:
Partly accessible, slopes, uneven and grass paths, undulating terrain. There is a Map of an accessible route.
Braille Guide is available.
Unique open-air theatre, indoor plays and music in the Barn Theatre. Family fun days, including children's theatre.
Local ale and cider are sold at the Barn Theatre Café but other refreshments are not available. These can be obtained from the Grapevine Café at Tenterden Vineyard Park just a 3 minute walk from Smallhythe Place.
Picturesque spot in the garden, away from the house, available for picknickers.
Accommodation - Search & Book through Agoda here: External Link
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)1580 762 334
National Trust/ Smallhythe Place External Link
- By Road
Free (not National Trust), 50 yards (45 metres).
Coaches park at Chapel Down Winery, 500 yards (457 metres)
- Public Transport
By Mainline Rail Web: National Rail
Rye 8 miles (13 km)
Appledore 8 miles (13 km)
Headcorn 10 miles (16 km)
Google Maps - Smallhythe Place