National Trust, Smallhythe Place: The Home of Ellen Terry
Smallhythe Place, the home of Ellen Terry, is located on a rural road, near Tenterden, where we made our base during my English Garden Tour. Coming from a narrow, graveled, country lane from the Bullein Barn B&B, Smallhythe Place was at the end of it. Everyday we were amazed at all the cars parked here and the visitors going to the home. It was so convenient we thought we would save it to the end of our stay. This is not a big estate like some of the other National Trust properties we toured. This was a smallish house sitting on a smallish property. When we did visit, what a delight it was! As with all the National Trust properties, the hosts of this property made you feel so very welcome and were so knowledgable! I did not know a thing about Ellen Terry! First let’s look at her house, which is now a memorial to her.
This is what I learned………………….
One day, in 1899, Ellen Terry was out for a buggy ride in the country (this is well away from London) with Henry Irving, (the manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London’s Covent Garden), who was also her theatrical partner for twenty-four years. Upon seeing a cottage at the side of the small lane near Tenterden, she made up her mind this was where she wanted to live and die. So she bought the place. She lived there until her death in 1928. The half timbered house was built in the late 15th or early 16th century. The house was originally a “Priest House” and then called the “Port House,” because of it’s location on the River Rother, which is now just a trickle along the side of the house. At one time this place was a thriving shipyard, the Old English word “hythe” means “landing place.” It is far off the beaten tract, even now. She definitely wanted her peace and quiet, away from the crowds! When Terry died in 1929, her daughter, Edith Craig, opened the home as a memorial to her mother and then the National Trust took over the property when Craig died in 1947. Smallhythe Place is filled with mementoes of Terry’s career in the theatre. In 1929, Craig set up a barn on the grounds, as a theater, where William Shakespeare plays were performed every year on the anniversary of her mother’s death. This is continued even today.
The cottage sits near the road and every day as we passed by, on the way somewhere else, I wondered if it would still be standing when we returned. It really leans!!!!!
I loved the acknowledgement of the unwelcome plant! Silverweed!!!!!
The window picture was my favorite of the garden! It gives an idea of how serene the place is! It is the perfect cottage garden!
There is a small refreshment center and outdoor seating at Smallhythe.
It is just the cottage that you imagine in fairy tales! I can see why Ellen Terry chose to live here! So next time let’s take a peek inside Smallhythe Place! Who exactly is Ellen Terry? We’ll find out next time! See you soon!
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