Top 10 Victorian flowers

Samantha PillingHistory, The Gardens

Bouquet of spring flowers in basket

The Victorians loved flowers. Not only did they use them to adorn their homes, they were also used to scent their toiletries and clothes, flowers also had hidden symbolism too. Many a Victorian sweetheart could send unwritten wording through their choice of floral bouquet.   Here’s the top flowers of choice for the Victorians, along with what message they portrayed.  #1: The … Read More

The etiquette for Victorian dining

Samantha PillingHistory

Victorian dining was a complex affair. Not only was there the formality or writing to ask guests to attend, there was the complexity of organising who sat where, what dishes to serve (along with how many!) and ensuring that all guests would have an enjoyable evening.   When it come to the actual evening, the table needed to be set right, … Read More

Arthur Playfair – The dancing corporal

Samantha PillingHistory

The_Girl_in_The_Taxi_1912

Arthur Wyndham Playfair was an actor and singer. He appeared in a couple of William Schwenck Gilbert’s operas, as well as Edwardian musical comedies, and also created roles in Victorian burlesques. Born on the 20th October in 1869, Playfair started life in Ellichpur, a city in the Indian state of Maharashtra. He made his first appearance on the British stage … Read More

The Victorian love of Billiards

Samantha PillingHistory

An empty pocket on an old billiard table

In 1883, the then owner of Grim’s Dyke, banker Robert Heriot hired designer Arthur Cawston to add a billiard room to the existing property at Grim’s Dyke. The room was adjacent to what was formerly Goodall’s studio and was designed in a coarse Gothic style. Sir William Gilbert wasn’t keen on this style of architecture. He had this room overhauled in 1890, adding a new suite of … Read More

Grim’s Dyke: What it takes to become a Grade II* listed building

Samantha PillingHistory

Sunken Garden

Steeped in history, Grim’s Dyke is not only a stunning example of British Architecture, it has links to several influential and key historical British figures. However, its history goes back even further than the building itself – and it’s all these facts combined, that helped Grim’s Dyke achieve its Grade II listed building status.  But what exactly enables a building to gain this status and … Read More

10 Herbs for every Victorian Herb garden

Samantha PillingHistory, The Gardens

10 Herbs for every Victorian Herb garden

No Victorian garden was complete, without some herbs – and spring was the perfect time to get them started. Not only were they used in the Victorian kitchen, they were used to help keep the home clean and fresh smelling. Herbs were also used for their medicinal properties, along with their cosmetic value too – with the essential oils also being … Read More

The Pall Mall Gazette

Samantha PillingHistory

Pall Mall

The Pall Mall Gazette was a popular conservative newspaper, known for its news and reviews. Throughout W.S. Gilbert’s career, he was no stranger to the pages of the Pall Mall Gazette. His Savoy Operas were often reviewed within its pages and he was also regularly interviewed at his home in Grim’s Dyke. The earliest interview being published on 21st January 1887 (Ruddy-Gore and Savoy … Read More

Irish Soprano Rosa D’Erina

Samantha PillingHistory

Rosa D’Erina

Rosa D’Erina, was an Irish soprano who appeared in a few of W.S. Gilbert’s pieces. Born Rose Anna O’Toole on 22nd February 1848, in Armagh, Ireland, she became known as the prima donna of Erin.  Trained in Paris, D’Erina she was known as Rose of Erin, whilst in her homeland of Ireland, she was always referred to as Rose of the Songs. By the age of 12 she had already become the … Read More

The perennial Allium

Samantha PillingHistory, The Gardens

The perennial Allium

Lady Lucy Gilbert loved her flowers. Having planted the formal garden at Grim’s Dyke, along with the sunken rose garden, she ensured there were always beautiful and colourful flowers to break up the seasons. Dotted amongst the roses in the sunken garden, Lady Gilbert had planted both Geraniums and Alliums. The Allium family Alliums are part of the large Amaryllidaceae … Read More

John Martin: Painter, Engraver, Illustrator

Samantha PillingHistory

Installing John Martin paintings at the Millennium Gallery 1. Photo Museums Sheffield (small)

John Martin was an English painter, engraver, and illustrator. Known for his melodramatic religious-themed paintings, he served as an important inspiration for W.S. Gilbert’s work. Martin’s art was typically fantastic and imposing. He painted imposing landscapes, with minute figures and fantastic compositions. For some, he was known as the most important painter of his day – but his work wasn’t … Read More