Donation of rare theatre programme

Ellen Terry Talk
Ellen Terry Talk

RYE Museum has donated a copy of a theatre programme to the National Trust’s Smallhythe Place.

The programme is of a performance of a nativity play performed in Rye in 1919 which has a prologue by famous actress Ellen Terry.

Dame Ellen Terry, who died in 1928, aged 81, became the leading Shakespearean actress in Britain.

She often performed as Henry Irving’s leading lady. The couple toured with great success in America.

She lived at Winchelsea and at Smallhythe Place, near Tenterden.

her ashes now rest in a silver chalice in St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden.

Smallhythe curator Susannah Mayor gave a talk to the Friends of Rye Museum last week.

The talk was illustrated by pictures of Ellen Terrys costumes and some recently unearthed drawings of Ellen Terry and her theatrical friends.

Museum director Heather Stevenson said: “Our curator had talked previously with Susannah about the programme.

“She told us that, although they have a photograph of the play, they didn’t have a programme at Smallhythe. The Museum held a duplicate copy, so with the permission of the directors and trustees, the Museum donated one of the copies to Smallhythe Place as a small token of appreciation.”

The play was performed at the Monastery in Rye on January 13 and 14 1919 in aid of the Rye Borough Nursing Fund.

Talks are held monthly at Rye Museum, which is situated at 3 East Street.

The next talk, on Tuesday March 11, is by Richard Filmer on “Traditional Trades, Crafts and Industries of Kent and East Sussex”.

New members welcome. More details at