First, we had lunch at the Two Sawyers in Pett. The sun had emerged unexpectedly, so we decided to sit outside.
'No tabs in the garden' snapped the lady behind the bar. We quite understood why this should be, but her approach was a little off-putting. However, after some hissing amongst ourselves in the doorway, which I think the lady heard, we recovered and the food, as expected, was excellent.
After, we drove via Rye to Smallhythe, a new destination for Philosopher and Battleaxe.
It is hard to believe that what is now an isolated hamlet twelve miles from the sea was once an important ship-building port on the estuary of the River Rother. The last great ship to be built there was as recently as 1546, the 300 ton 'Great Gallyon' for Henry VIII. By then the river had already started to silt up, and in 1636 a great storm finally diverted its course away from Smallhythe. Today, nothing remains.
Smallhythe Place was the home of actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928) for the last thirty years of her life. After the death, the house was preserved as a museum by her daughter before being taken on by the National Trust.
|'Choosing' by G F Watts, the young Ellen Terry|
One of her children, Edith Craig, lived next-door to Smallhythe Place as part of a lesbian menage-a-trois with painter Clare (Tony) Atwood and women's suffrage writer and activist Christabel Marshall (Christopher St John). Edith started her career as an actress but was better known as a theatrical director and designer.
|The Priest's House, where Edith lived.|
|On the Terrace at the Priest's House, by one of the inhabitants, Clare Attwood|
Inside the house, there is much theatrical memorabilia, including Ellen's costumes. We saw the dress covered in iridescent beetle's wings, which she wore to play Lady Macbeth in 1888, and which features in the famous painting by John Singer Sargent.
|Beetle-wing dress, 1888|
|Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth, John Singer Sargent|