Kent TN30 7NG
Tel: 01580 762334
For information on opening hours visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/smallhytheplace
Contact: c/o Paul Meredith, House Manager
The half-timbered house, built in the early 16th century when Smallhythe was a thriving shipbuilding yard, was the home of the Victorian actress Ellen Terry from 1899 to 1928, and contains her fascinating theatre collection. The cottage grounds include her rose garden, orchard, nuttery and the working Barn Theatre. Smallhythe Place was the last home of Ellen Terry - known as the ‘Queen of the Theatre’. Amongst its extensive theatre collection are dresses and accessories worn by Terry and Henry Irving in their most famous Shakespearian roles. These can only be visited by appointment only.
The Beetle Wing Dress, 1888: After more than five years away from the public eye, £50,000 worth of fund raising, 1,300 hours of conservation work and 1,000 real beetle wings being sewn back in place by specialist conservator, Zenzie Tinker, the dress that was made famous by Victorian actress Ellen Terry is finally back on public display. It remains one of the most iconic and celebrated theatre costumes of the Victorian period. The emerald and sea green gown, adorned with the iridescent wings of the jewel beetle was designed to look like soft chain armour and yet give the appearance of the scales of a serpent. It was worn by the much-loved actress Ellen Terry for her famous portrayal of Lady Macbeth in 1888. The dress was immortalised by the John Singer Sargent portrait of Ellen which is now on display at the Tate Gallery. The dress is now proudly back where it belongs, in a new contemporary display space which also features items from Ellen’s dressing room that have never been shown in public before.
Images copyrighted to the National Trust and to Zenzie Tinker, Textile Conservator c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images: Beetle dress after conservation but without belt. Detail of beetle wing