Pressing flowers – a quintessential Victorian pastime

Samantha PillingHistory, The Gardens

Flower Pressing

The Victorians loved flowers! Not only did fresh flowers adorn their homes, flowers were also depicted in paintings, carvings, embroidery and clothing. Pressed flowers were a simple art form that can easily be traced back to ancient Egypt. In the 1500’s Oshibana (the art of pressing flowers in a way to create a whole picture) was meticulous and skilled – … Read More

Brantinghame Hall

Samantha PillingHistory

Newspaper pages with antique advertising

  Brantinghame Hall was a four-act serious drama, written by W.S. Gilbert for his friend Rutland Barrington. Barrington was leasing St. James’s Theatre and need to increase audience figures, so Gilbert resurrected an old play that hadn’t previously been produced. Brantinghame Hall was sentimental and had a few good comedy scenes, so Gilbert modified it for Barrington, so he could place it at … Read More

Victorian Composer Frederic Clay

Samantha PillingHistory


English composer Frederic Clay, was a great friend of Arthur Sullivan, who he subsequently introduced to W.S. Gilbert at the Gallery. Together, Clay and Gilbert produced four comic operas, before a stroke paralysed Clay at the age of 44 and cut short his productive life. Cay died in 1889, aged 51 when he was found drowned in the bath at … Read More

Doctor Who, Daleks and The Grim’s Dyke

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History


The Evil of the Daleks was the ninth and final serial of the fourth season the popular science fiction television series Doctor Who. The Doctor had regenerated for the first time during this fourth season, with Patrick Troughton taking over from William Hartnell. For the first time, the entire cast changed over the course of this fourth season – something … Read More

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


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