Ellen Terry centre stage again in Leeds

Ellen Terry as Portia (Merchant of Venice),
sketched by Jim Dodgson (Kester),
a member of the Leeds Savage Club.
This was probably during her 1902 tour.

 The renowned Shakespearean actress Ellen Terry (1847-1928) visited Leeds many times during her career and performed with her stage partner Henry Irving at the Leeds Grand Theatre on many occasions.

We have a number of items in the Leeds museum and gallery collections relating to this great actress and they feature in the new “Performance” exhibition now open at Abbey House Museum (until December 2012).  The display includes a beautiful cream silk dress which was reputedly designed for Ellen Terry and was worn by the actress K.L. Langstaffe when playing Desdemona in 1898.  It was originally made by a top London dressmaker, Alice Mason of 4 New Burlington St. and has been lovingly conserved by Jacqueline Hyman of Heritage Science Services (http://www.textilerestoration.co.uk/).   Jacqueline says that she felt a personal connection to the dress as she was working on it because her great-grandfather had owned a theatre in Leeds and actually knew Ellen Terry, naming Jacqueline’s grandmother Ellen in her honour.

Textile conservator Jacqueline Hyman
making final adjustments to the Ellen Terry
dress for display at Abbey House.

Leeds Grand Theatre, New Briggate, Sept. 8th 1881,
Henry Irving and Ellen Terry’s performance of “Hamlet”

Medallion of Ellen Terry, 1936 (plaster)
by Albert Toft (1862-1949)

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