Collection Description

Collection name Smallhythe Place
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Description Best known as the former home of actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928), Smallhythe Place contains Terry’s collection of personal and theatrical mementos, as well as later acquisitions and donations relating to her life and career. There are many musical items at Smallhythe Place, primarily - although not exclusively - relating to theatre and stage performances.

The collection contains approximately 160 items of printed music, consisting almost entirely of vocal music. The earliest item is a bound volume of nine songs written, composed and/or arranged by Thomas Moore, dating from 1807 to 1820. There is also a catalogue of Thomas Moore vocal music (1812) bound into this volume. The rest of the printed music dates from around 1855 to 1930, and includes part songs; national songs from the United Kingdom and Europe; songs from theatre and musicals; folk songs and dances; and hymns. Much of the collection bears Ellen Terry’s ownership inscriptions, including Wilhelm’s method of teaching singing (1855); others bear the name of Terry’s daughter, Edith Craig (1869-1947). Items of note include Eugene Sauré’s piano work “Olivia” (1878), dedicated to Ellen Terry; full scores to James Hamilton Clarke’s Six Lyceum overtures (approximately 1885), with manuscript inscription to Terry from the composer; Olive waltz (1887), for the piano, composed by Ellen’s sister Marion Terry (1853-1930); Lullaby from Mary Carmichael’s Three characteristic pieces (approximately 1900), dedicated to Ellen Terry; and Seymour Arundale’s The Ellen Terry jubilee song 1856-1906 (1906).

Smallhythe Place contains a small amount of manuscript music, including an anonymous “Danse caracteristique” from Much ado about nothing (1882); “Rounds and canons” (1889), a small collection of musical excerpts and illustrations; and “Come away death”, an anonymous and undated Shakespeare setting for voice and piano.

There are approximately 50 opera libretti in the collection at Smallhythe Place, dating from as early as 1753 (Henry Carey’s The contrivances), although mostly late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century publications, some specially printed for particular productions or theatres. As well as operas by popular names such as Verdi, Mozart, and Wagner, the libretti collection also includes some lesser-known works such as Unterm Pantoffel by “Th. Leprez” (1891); Carl Millöcker’s The black hussar (approximately 1910); and Granville Bantock’s The seal woman. This latter item is typescript, contains a loose music manuscript, and appears to be a review copy.

The book collection naturally majors on theatre, opera and musicals. It includes biographies or memoirs of musicians including Maria Malibran (1844), Adelina Patti (1885), and Ethel Smyth (1959); and books on opera history and performance such as Les beautés de l’opéra (1845), Benjamin Lumley’s Reminiscences of the opera (1864), Rosa Newmarch’s The Russian opera (1914) and Sterling Mackinlay’s Origin & development of light opera (1927). One notable item is “The Russian ballet” (1913), written by Ellen Terry herself.

Other printed items include a small number of programmes, including a “Souvenir programme given by the theatrical and musical professions as a tribute to Miss Ellen Terry on the occasion of her jubilee” (1906), which bears Ellen Terry’s signature as well as Enrico Caruso’s; specimen copies of “The page”, a magazine published by Ellen Terry’s son Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966), which contains musical excerpts; theatre posters and playbills, one mentioning Maria Malibran, another advertising the “Kate Terry valse” by Henry King, dedicated to Ellen’s sister Kate (1844-1924); and a lithographed print of Pablo de Sarasate, inscribed to Ellen Terry by Sarasate and accompanied by an autograph letter. The house also holds some autograph letters from Nellie Melba to Ellen Terry.

Smallhythe Place holds a large collection of photographs, many of which feature well-known musicians, including John Philip Sousa, Arthur Sullivan, David Ffrangcon-Davies, Gabrielle Ray, John Sims Reeves, Nellie Melba, Jan Kubelík, Edward German and Adelina Patti. Some of these are autographed by their subjects. Others depict actors and actresses in operetta roles, such as Leonora Braham in Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Patience”, or Ellen Terry herself in “Iolanthe”. Ellen Terry is also the subject of a number of photographs which depict her with musicians such as Arthur Sullivan, or in musical settings such as playing the piano. Terry’s piano playing is additionally attested to by the presence of a catalogue from piano manufacturers Chickering & Sons, and a receipt for a piano tuner.

Sadly there is no piano at Smallhythe Place today, or indeed any other instruments. A Decca gramophone, a gift to Ellen Terry on her 77th birthday from her daughter Edith, is present, although its only record is not musical, but instead a recording of Terry reading Shakespeare. A final curiosity at Smallhythe Place is an eyeglass formerly owned by Arthur Sullivan.

All items are listed on Printed items are additionally catalogued on Jisc Library Hub Discover.

Printed music
Manuscript music
Concert programmes
Private papers/diaries/letters
Playback devices
Vinyl discs
Date range -
Associated People and Organisations Terry, Ellen - Moore, Thomas - Edith Craig 1869 - 1947 Eugene Sauré - James Hamilton Clarke - Marion Terry 1853 - 1930 Carmichael, Mary - Seymour Arundale - Carey, Henry - Verdi, Giuseppe - Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus - Wagner, Richard - Th. Leprez - Carl Millöcker - Bantock, Granville - Malibran, Maria - Patti, Adelina - Smyth, Ethel - Benjamin Lumley - Rosa Newmarch - Sterling Mackinlay - Enrico Caruso - Edward Gordon Craig 1872 - 1966 Henry King - Kate Terry 1844 - 1924 Sarasate, Pablo de - Nellie Melba - John Philip Sousa - Sullivan, Arthur - David Ffrangcon-Davies - Gabrielle Ray - John Sims Reeves - Jan Kubelík - German, Edward - Leonora Braham - Gilbert, William Schwenck - Chickering and Sons - Decca Record Company -
Associated Places
Associated Times 18th Century 19th Century 20th Century
Associated Content Theatre Songs Vocal music Folk dance Folk song Religious music Musical comedy Piano music Orchestral music Dance Opera Operetta Biography Music history and theory Gramophone
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National Trust, Smallhythe Place

Smallhythe Tenterden TN30 7NG Open Map
Building Information Ellen Terry's early sixteenth-century house and cottage gardens.
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