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.
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.
Ellen Terry’s life included a 64 year stage career, three marriages and one elopement. She was a famous actress, performing for war charities during World War One and was ahead of her time in many ways.
One day, in 1917, she gave her little leather wallet to a soldier on a train who had given up his seat for her. Inside the wallet was a postcard showing a portrait of her. On the back of the postcard she wrote:
‘This old letter case has brought me luck I have had it for 24 years – will you mind it and keep it for luck. My best thanks for giving me your seat. I have not even a cigarette to give.’
Susannah Mayor, house steward tells us more of the story: ‘The soldier was killed and his effects were returned to his family. The letter case was donated to Smallhythe, Ellen’s home, in 1980 by the daughter of the young soldier’s fiancé. Sadly we do not know the name of the soldier. The postcard is heavily creased and stained by what could be blood or coffee.’