Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: A time when W.S. Gilbert was king

Samantha PillingHistory

R&G

Known for having a genuine affection for amateur actors, Sir William Schwenck Gilbert was keen on performing as an amateur actor himself. He would occasionally write short plays to be used as charity performances and to raise funds for local hospitals. Frequently, he’d encourage his friends and colleagues to become part of the performing cast and Gilbert himself, was also known to take on the odd acting … Read More

10 things you didn’t know about W.S. Gilbert

Samantha PillingHistory

Gilbert

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert was best known as a dramatist, librettist, poet and illustrator. His Savoy Operas with Sir Arthur Sullivan made him renown, even to this day. However, there are some things that you may not have known about W.S. Gilbert – here’s 10 of the most interesting:  #1: W.S. Gilbert had the Dickensian habit of wearing a red … Read More

The Hooligan by W.S. Gilbert

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

Pentonville

Produced just four months before W.S. Gilbert’s death, this one-act play was a grim, yet powerful play. It was a study of a young condemned murderer, waiting in a prison cell for his execution and was inspired by the celebrated Crippen murder trial of 1910. One of Gilbert’s most successful serious dramas Gilbert focused on showing sympathy for the villain, … Read More

Sir Edward Seymour Hicks

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

seymour hicks

Sir Edward Seymour Hick, better known as Seymour Hicks, was an actor, performer, playwright, screenwriter, actor-manager and producer – and frequent visitor to Grim’s Dyke. Both Hicks and his wife were friends of W.S. Gilbert and his wife, Lady Lucy, making them frequent visitors to Grim’s Dyke. Ironically, hicks first taste of acting was in a school play when, at … Read More

Ellaline Terriss – popular English actress and singer

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

Ellaine Terriss

Born Mary Ellaline Lewin, in Stanley, Falkland Islands, Terriss came from a family of performers. Best known for her performances in Edwardian Theatre comedies, she had a career that spanned 52 years. Her father, William Lewin, (known by his stage name William Terriss), was a well-known actor in London. Her mother, Isabel Lewis, acted too, under her stage name Amy … Read More

W.S. Gilbert’s stage management methods

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

W.S._Gilbert's_burlesque_comedy,_Engaged

As illustrated in The Strand interview1, W.S. Gilbert was a thorough stage manager, who planned everything in great detail. His need for detail involved having exact replicas of the stage, actors and scenes created, so he could plan, in depth, exactly who should be on stage at any given time. This is possibly why he was revered so much, as … Read More

The lake at Grim’s Dyke

Samantha PillingHistory

Ducks

The artificial ornamental lake at Grim’s Dyke must have been one of the biggest gardens and grounds projects undertaken by Sir William and Lady Gilbert. The original lake was way beyond the house and ornamental gardens, so, under Sir William’s direct supervision, it was extended, firstly in 1899, then again in 1905, until it reached a surface area of 1.5 … Read More

Memorial to W.S. Gilbert

Samantha PillingHistory

Sweethearts_-_W._S._Gilbert

If you cross the road from Victoria Embankment, on the retaining river wall, the northern side of Hungerford Bridge, you’ll find the memorial to Sir William Schwenck Gilbert. Showing a bronze side profile of the dramatist, it has two wreaths above, a shield below and two women depicting tragedy and comedy. Tragedy has a book on her lap and is … Read More

The Victorian art of Curio collecting

Samantha PillingHistory

Crockery

Curios, otherwise known as knick-knacks, trinkets and ornaments are one of those household things that you either love or hate – and it seems, that the Victorian had rather a passion for them! The Victorian love of Curios The Victorians loved to collect curios and display them around the house – many even had a curio cabinet, full of the … Read More

The importance of an observatory at Grim’s Dyke

Samantha PillingHistory

Grims Dyke Blog Astronomy

W.S. Gilbert bought Grim’s Dyke in August 1890 and, by May 1910, he’d had an observatory built at Grim’s Dyke, complete with the latest telescope. Like many affluent Victorians of that time, he wanted to indulge in his latest passion for star gazing. However, the Victorian’s passion for astronomy also played an important part in the progression of this area … Read More