TERRY, Dame Ellen (1847-1928)
Plaque erected in 1951 by London County Council at 22 Barkston Gardens, Earls Court, London, SW5 0ER, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Theatre and Film
ELLEN TERRY 1847-1928 ACTRESS lived here
The actress Dame Ellen Terry lived at 22 Barkston Gardens in Earls Court between 1889 and 1902, when she was at the height of her stage career.
Born in Coventry, Terry was the daughter of actors and was herself a seasoned theatrical performer by the age of 12. While living at Barkston Gardens she played numerous leading roles with distinction, including most of the Shakespearean canon. Much of Terry’s work was performed at the Lyceum alongside Henry Irving, who was widely assumed to be her lover.
It was also while living in Barkston Gardens that she conducted her famous correspondence with George Bernard Shaw. The two rarely met in person but their letters were openly affectionate. Shaw offered Terry advice on acting and attempted to lure her away from Irving’s influence at the Lyceum.
EARLS COURT HOME
Terry shared the terraced house, which dates from 1886, with a lady companion, Mrs Rumball – affectionately known as ‘Boo’ – and Prince, a singing bullfinch. During her residence the exterior was notable for lavish floral displays on the balcony and window-sills.
Very much the grande dame, Ellen Terry was afforded lavish and deferential treatment in the monthlies. ‘My little home!’, she exclaimed to one interviewer, ‘only full of twopenny-halfpenny things; but I love them all for dear associations’ sake’. Her collection of knick-knacks included Sarah Bernhardt’s lace handkerchief, and eyeglasses that had belonged to Sir Arthur Sullivan, Irving and Whistler.