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(The Ellen Terry Museum)
Smallhythe lies about 5 miles south of Tenterden on the B2082.
Believe it or not, this tiny hamlet used to be a flourishing port
and a centre for ship-building! Timber from the Wealden Forests
was collected in Tenterden , then sent to Smallhythe for the building
of ships. The River Rother flowing past here was of sufficient width
and depth to accommodate the main warships of the period. The
shipyards became famous from the 14th to the middle 16th century.
One of Henry VIII's warships 'The Grand Masters' was built in the
shipyards of this port, and in 1537 Henry VIII visited the
construction site to view the building of this great vessel.
The direction the river Rother takes now is quite different to that
which it used to take before the 13th century. Nowadays the river
doesn't even flow through Smallhythe , it flows from Newenden to Rye .
In the 13th century it used to flow past Smallhythe , around the Isle
of Oxney to the sea at Appledore . By the end of the 16th century,
the river had silted up so that only a small creek remained.
In 1514 there was a devastating fire that destroyed much of Smallhythe .
The village was rebuilt along with one of the few buildings to survive
into this century, Smallhythe Place. Smallhythe Place was built
in the mid 15th century, originally as the Customs House for the port.
The unusual red brick built church of St Mildred was built in 1516 just
after the fire. It is believed that the bricks used in its construction
came from the Low Countries.
The river Rother silted up in the early 17th century, and the property became
In 1899 Dame Ellen Terry the famous actress purchased
Smallhythe Place and occupied it until her death in 1929. The building
was given to the National Trust in 1939 by Dame Ellen's daughter.
Now as the Ellen Terry Museum, it houses a wealth of interesting articles
and memorabilia from the late, great actresses life.
| There are no services in Smallhythe , and therefore you need to travel
to Tenterden for shopping, and eating.
The nearest trains run from Appledore , and are on the Hastings to Ashford
line with hourly services.
| The area around the Isle of Oxney is very beautiful especially during the
summer. It is possible to park near to the Ellen Terry Museum, and visit
its facinating collection of items from the great actresses life.
Without moving the car, walk up the road towards Tenterden, where you can
see the brick church built after the village was burned down.
The levels across to the Isle of Oxney , are very relaxing to view.