Smallhythe Place marks three milestones this summer

PUBLISHED: 16:39 08 July 2019

The Barn Theatre hosts a varied range of musical and spoken-word productions

The Barn Theatre hosts a varied range of musical and spoken-word productions

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Smallhythe Place is celebrating a triple milestone this summer with a special exhibition and live performances

The 16th-century cottage near Tenterden that we know and love as Smallhythe Place became synonymous with theatre royalty exactly 120 years ago in 1899, when it was bought by the celebrated Victorian actress, Dame Ellen Terry.

She lived there happily until her death in 1928, after which the house was transformed into a museum in her honour a year later - 90 years ago. Ten years after that, Smallhythe Place was bequeathed to the National Trust by her daughter, Edith Craig.

Dame Ellen first spotted Smallhythe from a pony and trap during a ride from Rye to Tenterden in the company of fellow actor, Henry Irving. She fell in love with its quiet charm and found much comfort in having a country retreat where she could escape the frenzy of London life.

An exhibition entitled 'The Gift of Smallhythe Place' reveals some of the stories behind the museum's creation. The costume collection includes around 250 items from outfits worn by Dame Ellen on stage, including a gown that she appeared in more than 200 times while playing Portia in The Merchant of Venice and a delicate 'beetle-wing' dress she wore as Lady Macbeth in 1888.

'The Gift of Smallhythe Place' is free to view (with normal admission) and runs Wed-Sun until 27 October, 11am to 5pm.

Smallhythe Place is also home to the Barn Theatre, situated in a converted 17th-century thatched barn in the grounds.

It hosts live performances every year and as part of the multiple milestone celebrations, a special programme of live theatre has been planned, with a mix of open-air and indoor productions.

Choose from a range of spoken and musical productions ranging from children's classic Alice in Wonderland to The Winter's Tale, Great Expectations and Sense and Sensibility to cult favourites like Dad's Army and Hancock and Co, a celebration of the comedy classic, Hancock's Half Hour.

Visitors are encouraged to arrive early and make a whole day of it, exploring the house and its contents, then spending time in the garden, playing games and enjoying a picnic before enjoying a live performance inside the Barn Theatre or in the grounds.

For full theatre listings and to book tickets for any of the theatre productions happening over the summer, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/smallhytheplace. You can also read about the rich and varied history of Smallhythe Place and discover more about the life and work of Dame Ellen Terry.

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