Smallhythe Place, Kent

Record ID:  130622 / MNA153490
Record type:  Monument
Protected Status: Listed Building: Grade II*
NT Property:  Smallhythe Place; London and South East
Civil Parish:  Tenterden; Ashford; Kent
Grid Reference:  TQ 89345 29995
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Summary

A long timber-framed, continuously-jettied house of the early 16th century, with much of its framing exposed to view externally.

Identification Images (2)

View of Smallhythe Place  © National TrustSmallhythe Place © National Trust
View of Smallhythe Place  © National TrustSmallhythe Place © National Trust

Monument Types

  • HOUSE (Medieval to Late 16th C - 1500 AD to 1599 AD)

Description

History
Built in early 16th century. Subsequently modified. Existed as high status, semi-administrative building, farmhouse, private house and museum.

Description
A long timber-framed, continuously-jettied house of the early 16th century, with much of its framing exposed to view externally. It originally incorporated a set of projecting windows, but only fragments of one of these now survive. It has an unusual internal layout with some rooms, apparently, designed for semi-public use. There are two front doors located side by side, one leading into the private part of the building and another, more elaborately finished doorway for 'public' access. The need to incorporate different layouts on the ground and first floors led to the use of some interesting and innovative details of construction. Two rear ranges were replaced by lean-to outshuts in the 17th century, probably when the building became a farm house, and it is to this period too that the present chimneys probably belong. Beneath the southern end is a cellar that appears to predate the house above. For a full account of the building and its development see David and Barbara Martin, 'An archaeological interpretative survey of Smallhythe Place, Tenterden, Kent' (Archaeology South-East, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 2005).

Smallhythe Place stands on the eastern side of the road between Tenterden Town and Rye, immediately to the north of Smallhythe Bridge which takes the road over Reading Sewer, formerly the branch of the River Rother which skirted around the northern side of the Isle of Oxney. This was a navigable river and was formerly crossed by a ferry rather than a bridge. Smallhythe itself is today a low-density scatter of houses stretching along the north-south aligned road, loosely centred around the medieval chapel (rebuilt 1516-17, and now a church in its own right) and extending down to the bridge. Until the mid/late 16th century the settlement was a nucleated cluster of houses called 'Smallhythe Street' serving a small port and shipbuilding centre on the river. The chapel was burnt on 31st July 1514 and was rebuilt in brick (with crow-stepped gables and traceried windows) soon afterwards. Tradition states that the entire settlement was burnt during the fire, but this remains unconfirmed. Smallhythe Street increasingly failed during the period from the middle years of the 16th century through to the early 17th century, no doubt initially as a result of silting, but finally because the more direct branch of the river, skirting around the southern side of the Isle of Oxney, was re opened to river traffic by the deliberate breaching of 'Knelle Dam' in 1635. In this respect the house now known as Smallhythe Place, together with that known today as Priests' House, immediately to the south of the chapel, are survivors from the settlement's days of prosperity. Both were successfully adapted to the changed economic circumstances, Smallhythe Place becoming during the 17th century a farm house. It should be noted that both houses are datable on typological grounds to the period 1490-1540 and are thus candidates for reconstruction following the 1514 fire, which may have 'destroyed' either most, or the entire settlement. However, until the buildings have been dated using scientific methods it would be dangerous to draw firm conclusions in this respect: both houses could have been built/rebuilt as a result of increased prosperity on the part of their owners, unrelated to any fire. In particular, it is worth emphasizing that Smallhythe Place is some distance from the chapel, and was always a detached structure. A further locally-held belief is that Smallhythe Place was the home of the street's portreeve. However, current research can find no evidence of a portreeve at Smallhythe, let alone that this was his house. [For an account of Smallhythe's historical background see Dr G. M. Draper, 'Historical report on Smallhythe, thirteenth to nineteenth centuries', prepared as part of this project in February 2005, from which the above account has been extracted]

References

  • SNA62999 - National Trust Report: Archaeology South-East. 2005. Archaeological and Historic Landscape Survey of Smallhythe, Kent.

  • SNA63004 - Vernacular Building Survey: Archaeology South-East. 2005. An Archaeological Interpretative Survey of Smallhythe Place, Tenterden, Kent.

  • SNA63301 - National Trust Report: Martin, David ASE. 2004. Vernacular Building Survey, Smallhythe Place / Ellen Terry Museum, Smallhythe Place, 2004.

  • SNA63731 - National Trust Report: 1988. Vernacular Building Survey, Smallhythe Place / Ellen Terry Museum, Smallhythe Place, 1988.

  • SNA68883 - National Trust Report: Archaeology South-East. 2017. Archaeological Watching Brief During the Removal of Roots and Silt from the Lower Pond at Smallhythe Place, Tenterden, Kent.

  • SNA68884 - National Trust Report: MJC Associates. 2019. Graffiti Survey Interpretation Report: Smallhythe Place, The Barn and The Priests' House, Smallhythe, Tenterden, Kent.

  • SNA68891 - Geophysical Survey Report: Hastings and Area Archaeological Research Group. 2020. Resistivity and Magnetometer Surveys of Smallhythe Place Garden, Elfwick and Forstal Fields, Smallhythe, Tenterden, Kent.

  • SNA68892 - Article in serial: Peter Bellamy and Gustav Milne. 2003. n Archaeological Evaluation of the Medieval Shipyard Facilities at Smallhythe, Kent. 123.

  • SNA68893 - National Trust Report: HB Archaeology & Conservation Ltd. 2014. Recording of a Garden Feature to the North of the House, Smallhythe Place, Kent.

  • SNA68903 - National Trust Report: Hastings and Area Archaeological Research Group. 2020. Ceramic building material and pottery report, Elfwick Field, Smallhythe Place, Kent.

  • SNA69146 - National Trust Report: Eliott Wragg. 2022. Excavations at Smallhythe Place, Elfwick and Forstal Fields, Smallhythe, Kent.

Designations

Other Statuses and References

None Recorded

Associated Events

  • ENA4668 - Field Survey, Archaeological and Historic Landscape Survey of Smallhythe, Kent, 2005
  • ENA4672 - Field Survey, Archaeological Interpretative Survey, Smallhythe Place, Tenterden, 2005
  • ENA5365 - Field Survey, Vernacular Building Survey, Smallhythe Place / Ellen Terry Museum, Smallhythe Place, 1988
  • ENA5366 - Field Survey, Vernacular Building Survey, Smallhythe Place / Ellen Terry Museum, Smallhythe Place, 2004
  • ENA9904 - Field Survey, Smallhythe Place, The Barn and The Priests House, Smallhythe: Graffiti Survey, 2018
  • ENA9910 - Field Survey, Geophysical Survey: Smallhythe Place, Elfwick and Forstal Fields, 2019
  • ENA6247 - Archaeological Intervention, Smallhythe Kent: Archaeological interventions by Time Team, 1998
  • ENA9911 - Field Survey, Recording of a Garden Feature to the North of the House, Smallhythe Place, Kent, 2014
  • ENA10165 - Archaeological Intervention, Excavations at Smallhythe Place, Elfwick and Forstal Field, Smallhythe, Kent

Associated Finds

  • FNA6181 - CERAMIC (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)

Related Records

None Recorded