Smallhythe is a hamlet that lies on the Levels between Wittersham and Tenterden on the B2082.
It was once the harbour and port for nearby Tenterden as the River Rother, which was navigable for large ships once flowed past Smallhythe. It was also an important shipbuilding centre using timber from the nearby Wealden Forests. One of Henry VIII’s warships was built at Smallhythe and Henry visited the port in 1538 to view the ship under construction.
Smallhythe suffered a devastating fire in 1514, which almost destroyed the entire village. Smallhythe Place was probably built after this disaster and used by the harbourmaster as the Port House for the flourishing shipyard.
The actress Ellen Terry, who played opposite Sir Henry Irving in the late nineteenth century, purchased Smallhythe Place in 1899 and lived there until her death in 1928. Today the building is owned by the National Trust and has a unique collection of costumes and memorabilia related to Ellen Terry.
As you travel up the hill from the Levels you pass the Priest’s House, another beautiful half-timbered house and the church, rebuilt after the fire in brick, which was fashionable at the time. At the top of the hill there are vineyards and the home of one of the largest producers of English wine in the country.