Things to see and do at Smallhythe Place

Built in the early 16th-century when Smallhythe was a thriving shipbuilding port, Smallhythe Place was purchased by renowned Victorian actress Ellen Terry in 1899. It now includes a cottage garden and a charming 17th-century thatched Barn Theatre which provides an opportunity to soak up the atmosphere with a regular programme of talks and shows.

The house

Trace the changing fortunes of Smallhythe Place over its 500-year history. Smallhythe has been part of medieval shipbuilding, a sleepy backwater farm house, home to renowned Victorian actress Ellen Terry and now houses a nationally important theatrical museum and collection.

The Barn Theatre

The Barn Theatre was the brainchild of Ellen Terry's daughter, Edy Craig. Throughout her time at Smallhythe, Edy wished to convert the barn into a theatre but Ellen wouldn't allow it. Edy finally got her way after Ellen's death in 1928, with the first performance in 1929. The theatre hosts productions to this day

The garden

‘There was something of wildness in her nature, something wilful and untamed, something almost fey, which assorts well with this brave old house, with these rich beams, these windows.' So wrote the critic E.V. Lucas after visiting Ellen at Smallhythe. This is reflected in the nature of the lovely cottage garden.

Shipbuilding at Smallhythe Place

Smallhythe was one of the most significant ship-building centres of medieval England from the 13th to the mid-16th centuries. Royal ships were built here for Henry VI and Henry VIII. Smallhythe is now landlocked 12 miles from the coast.