Why the Victorians loved the game of croquet

Samantha PillingHistory

Grims Dyke Croquet

It is thought that croquet was introduced in England in the early 1850’s, although its origins are still unclear. It was considered a most suitable pastime for the Victorian women and young girls, with its popularity quickly spreading overseas too. Why? Because it could be played alone or with others, it wasn’t too taxing for females, didn’t need strength and … Read More

The Victorian sunken garden

Samantha PillingHistory, The Gardens

Rose Basket

Sir William Gilbert added the sunken rose garden at Grim’s Dyke in the late 19th Century. Sunken rose gardens became very popular in the Victorian area, growing in popularity throughout the Edwardian period of the early 1900s. It could be that Sir William added in this delightful secluded area, as he knew how much Lady Gilbert loved gardening – and … Read More

W.S. Gilbert and the accomplishment of a lifelong dream

Samantha PillingHistory

Stage Door Sign

On 13th February 1878, W.S. Gilbert finally got to realise his lifelong dream. That date was the Gaiety Theatre’s Wednesday Matinee performance of a pantomime Burlesque, entitled The Forty Thieves. It was a charity production that listed, among other amateur and professional actors, W.S. Gilbert – playing the part of Harlequin. The Forty Thieves was created as a charity benefit, … Read More

The Carl Rosa Opera Company

Samantha PillingHistory

palais garnier

Karl August Nicolaus Rose was born in Germany, on 22nd March 1842. A child prodigy and impresario, Rose (or Rosa, when he subsequently changed his name), was an important figure in the music industry. He played a huge role in illustrating the artistic and financial success of English opera, at time when it wasn’t considered a major player in the … Read More

Notable Gilbert & Sullivan adaptations

Samantha PillingHistory

Gilbert & Sullivan

Adaptations of the most popular Gilbert & Sullivan operas have been around since 1908, and they continue through to this day. W.S. Gilbert himself, started adapting them in 1908, with his first children’s book and since then, there’s been many notable adaptations. Children’s books W.S. Gilbert adapted stories from both H.M.S. Pinafore and the Mikado into story books for children. … Read More

Our Boys actress Kate Bishop

Samantha PillingHistory

Victorian Theatre Curtains

Kate Bishop was born in Bristol, 1848. She was a child actress, acting from the age of 15. Although her most famous stage role was as Violet Melrose in H.J. Byron’s Our Boys, she also acted in a trio of new plays – written by W.S. Gilbert. Bishop had a run of Gilbert’s plays during 1871 – acting in Randall’s … Read More

William Gilbert – an early influence on W.S. Gilbert?

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

Pen Nib

In 1861, a 26-year-old W.S. Gilbert began supplementing his income by writing illustrated stories, poems and articles of his own. During this period, his series of illustrated poems, the ‘Bab Ballads’ became increasingly popular. However, W.S. Gilbert also illustrated the poems and short stories for others during this period – including those of his father, William Gilbert. Although William Gilbert … Read More

W.S. Gilbert – Stage Director

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

Theatre sign

W.S. Gilbert wrote several plays and burlesques in his early years, especially whilst with the German Reed’s. It allowed him to develop his personal style and to control all aspects of production. However, it was in the following years that he honed his knowledge of stage direction, by following the likes of James Planché and Tom Robertson. James Planché A … Read More

Thespis – the first collaboration of Gilbert & Sullivan

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

inside an old theatre

Thespis was a Christmas entertainment operatic extravaganza, produced by John Hollingshead. He bought together W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan for their first collaboration. John Hollingshead has been the lessee of the Gaiety Theatre since 1868, successfully producing several musical burlesques and operettas. It was also the largest of five London theatres known to show the works of Gilbert & Sullivan, … Read More

The Gaiety Theatre

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

Gaiety Theatre

The Gaiety Theatre was built in 1864, on the former site of the Lyceum Theatre. Originally established as the Strand Musick Hall, it took four years to become known as the Gaiety Theatre. John Hollingshead Under the management of John Hollingshead, the Gaiety Theatre was known for musical burlesque, pantomime and operetta performances. It was also synonymous with being a … Read More