The history of Smallhythe Place

The garden and early sixteenth-century half-timbered house at Smallhythe Place
Smallhythe Place is one of the places supported by the Rye and District Association National Trust Images / John Miller

Smallhythe Place has had a long and varied history. It's existed as a simple working farm, been home to Victorian actors and was once one of the most significant shipyards in medieval England.

Taking a step back in time

If you're interested in learning more about our most famous residents, Ellen Terry and Edith Craig, then please click on the link below to view the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s database, compiled by Professor Katharine Cockin from the University of Hull.

The house through the years

Smallhythe Place has had a varied 500 year history from the early shipbuilding days. 250 years as working farm then 30 years as the home of Ellen Terry, and finally the theatrically important museum you see today. 

Dame Ellen Terry 1847 - 1928

Victorian actress Dame Ellen Terry led an extraordinary and unconventional life. She was the leading actress of her time with a career spanning 65 yrs. She married three times and had two illegitimate children.

Edith Ailsa Craig 1869 - 1947

Edith Craig was a prolific theatre director, producer, costumier and activist in the women's suffrage movement. She set up the museum at Smallhythe Place and converted the thatched barn as a memorial to her mother.

Edward Gordon Craig 1872 - 1966

Edward Gordon Craig was an influential modernist theatre practitioner, actor, producer, director and scenic designer. Living a bohemian life style he had many prominent friends and at least 13 illegitimate children.