The Barn Theatre Society at Smallhythe Place

The Summer Theatre Company

In 1932 Edith established the Barn Theatre Society, running it on a subscription basis in much the same way as the society runs today.

With five or six plays being performed each summer, there was nothing like it in this part of Kent and up to the Second World War the Barn Theatre was a dramatic centre for the area. After the war, Edith was in poor health and, in March 1947, when planning that year's annual Shakespearean matinee, her heart condition worsened and she died.

Sir Lewis Casson and Sir John Gielgud then established the Ellen Terry Fellowship which presented annual memorial matinees from 1947 to 1961. In 1961, Anthony Thomas took over the theatre, formed the Ellen Terry Theatre Group and staged several productions each year. In 1992, Tony Weare revived the Barn Theatre Society which has staged several productions each year since that date. Five years later in 1997 (150 years after Ellen Terry's birth) a theatrical Angels Appeal was launched to raise further funds. Angels who donated £100 were given a certificate; Guardian Angels who donated £1,000 had their names put on the back of the original rush-seated chairs. There were 22 Guardian Angels, including Sir Paul McCartney and his first wife Linda McCartney, and the theatre owner and impresario Sir Cameron Macintosh.

In 2004 the National Trust took over the management of the theatre and introduced a season-long programme of productions by visiting artistes to supplement those of the Barn Theatre Society. 

Upcoming events

Kent Wildlife Trust Photography Exhibition

Sat 24 Mar 2018
An exhibition of the winning 12 photographs from the 2017 Kent Wildlife Trust Photography Competition, celebrating Kent's wildlife.

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts

Fri 30 Mar 2018
Spring into spring; immerse yourself with nature and the outdoors at Smallhythe Place with Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts in the garden.

Costume Tours

Sat 31 Mar 2018
Delve into the store for a peek of the delicate and lavish costumes once worn by Ellen Terry and her actor friends. With fascinating stories attached to each garment, costume tours are an opportunity to discover a rich theatrical history.

Three Billy Goats Gruff and Other Furry Tails

Mon 02 Apr 2018
Join us for some family theatre after our Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts in the garden on Easter Monday. Theatre of Widdershins explore the perplexing question of fairy tales with the help of some characterful and musical puppets.

Triumphant Women

Thu 05 Apr 2018
New exhibitions, Edy Craig: Women, Suffrage and the Theatre and The Shakespearean Lectures of Ellen Terry will be on display at Smallhythe Place celebrating the women of Smallhythe in the Suffrage movement.

Wuthering Heights

Sat 19 May 2018
When Cathy's father brings home an orphaned Heathcliff, the effect will echo for generations. Emily Brontë's only novel is a timeless Gothic classic of passionate love, revenge and despair.