Smallhythe Place and Quebec House mark National Trust milestones

PUBLISHED: 09:47 13 March 2018

Smallhythe Place, near Tenterden (photo: National Trust)

Smallhythe Place, near Tenterden (photo: National Trust)

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Centenary celebrations at the National Trust begin this spring with key moments in its history at Westerham and Small Hythe

This spring sees the celebration of two key National Trust milestones. Quebec House is marking 100 years since it passed from private ownership into the care of the Trust, while Smallhythe Place is honouring the contributions made to the women’s Suffrage movement by two of its most famous residents, the Victorian actress Dame Ellen Terry and her theatre director daughter, Edy Craig.

A centenary of commemoration

In 1918 Canadian philanthropist Joseph Learmont bequeathed Quebec House in Westerham to the National Trust. His will stated that the house and grounds were to be ‘utilised and maintained in perpetuity in memory of the late Major James Wolfe’. That same year, Wolfe was formally celebrated as a ‘Hero of Empire’ following the Battle of Quebec in 1759, where he led the British forces to victory over the French and secured British supremacy in Canada. He was fatally wounded in the battle and died the following day.

At Wolfe’s childhood home, Quebec House, the team will be telling new stories about Wolfe and the past 100 years, with paintings, military memorabilia and new artefacts positioned around the house. These include a waistcoat from the Loyal Regiment, whose members fought at the Battle of Quebec under Wolfe’s command. Later, a black line was added to the lace of the regiment’s waistcoats to mark his death.

Ellen Terry and Edith Craig (photo: National Trust)Ellen Terry and Edith Craig (photo: National Trust)

Quebec House opens Wed to to Sun and on BHMs. Tours 12 noon to 1pm, with the house then open for free-flowing visits. Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt trail 30 March to 2 April, plus tasting sessions from Mrs Wolfe’s recipe book every afternoon the house opens to the public.

Triumphant women

Smallhythe Place near Tenterden is marking 100 years since the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act was passed, allowing women to be elected into Parliament for the first time. It was to be another 10 years until women were granted the right to vote.

Two new exhibitions and displays will celebrate the voices and work of the women who lived there, Victorian actress Dame Ellen Terry and her daughter, Edy Craig. Both believed strongly in feminism and the Suffrage movement and used their theatrical influence and credentials to help spread the message.

Quebec House, Westerham (photo: National Trust)Quebec House, Westerham (photo: National Trust)

The Shakespearian Lectures of Ellen Terry are being explored in a special display in the main house at Smallhythe Place, looking at talks that Dame Ellen presented on the powerful women Shakespeare created in his plays as well as her thoughts and attitudes towards feminism and the treatment of women at the time. Several pages of annotated lecture notes are on display in this fascinating exhibition, which opens on 7 March.

On 5 April, the main exhibition opens in the Barn Theatre and Green Room, exploring Edy Craig’s devotion to the feminist cause. Edy was a founding member of the Actresses Franchise League, which used theatre as a political tool to reach out to women and the working classes.

Film footage, photos and original play scripts are shown, plus archives from the national Pageant of Great Women, which Edy produced in 1909. Other events marking the anniversary take place here over the summer including live performances, creative writing workshops and talks in the Barn Theatre relating to the Suffrage movement.

Find out more

For more information about events taking place at Quebec House and Smallhythe Place, or for ideas on other National Trust places to visit across Kent this Spring, please go online to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kent.

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