'Choosing' - a painting of Ellen Terry by George Frederic Watts circa 1864.
Smallhythe Place ...
If you are ever down Kent way, you must visit Smallhythe Place.
Owned by the National Trust, the property was the once home of Victorian actress Ellen Terry, between the years of 1899 and 1928.
The house itself is early 16th century.
Ellen Terry along with her husband Henry Irving were the golden couple of the stage towards the end of the 19th century.
The story goes, they were driving in Kent when they noticed an old farmhouse, which Ellen announced would be the place where she would like to live and die.
No wonder. The building is strikingly beautiful.
Step through the front door of the house into a box of delights for Thespians, antique and art lovers alike.
With very steep stairs and extremely creaky floorboards, you can see many of her costumes and possessions on display, including an evocative death mask.
After her mother's death, Ellen's daughter Edy converted the barn into a theatre.
The necessary funds were raised by suggesting that supporters subscribe a pound for a chair to commemorate themselves or a friend.
You can see these chairs all lined up inside the theatre, where talks and theatrical events are staged.o
The cottage grounds include her rose garden, orchard and a nuttery.o
The critic E V Lucas, after a visit to Smallhythe Place, wrote that the house was very like Ellen Terry -
There was something of wildness in her nature, something wilful and untamed, something almost fey, which assorts well with this brave old house, with these rich beams, these windows giving on to the green valley, this isolation among fields. I thought, when I was there the other day in spring, that it was very like her; like her in its grace, like her in its independence and Englishness, like her in the sunshine that irradiated it, and in the gaiety of its yellow wallflowers.
The rather beautiful image evoked in these words was lost just for a moment, when this Chinook helicopter thundered overhead!
With the parking being rather limited down by the bridge, we parked up a few hundred yards away in the grounds of St John the Baptist Church.