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The Beetle Wing Dress

The Beetle Wing Dress

The glittering, emerald and sea green dress worn by  Ellen Terry, the Victorian actress known as the “Queen of Theatre”,  has been restored after  a mammoth 1300-hour process.


Decorated with over  one thousand  green iridescent beetle wings, the shimmering dress was worn by Ellen Terry for the role of Lady Macbeth at the Lyceum Theatre in 1888. It was an iconic piece for its time and has strong associations with the actress who was painted by John Singer Sergeant (“Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth”, 1889, Tate Gallery)  wearing the dress. (Note the former inhabitants purportedly shed their wings naturally!)


The dress can be seen at the National Trust’s Smallhythe Place, Tenterden, Kent- the former home of the actress. For opening times and further information, visit or telephone 01580  762334

Images: All rights reserved National Trust