Grim’s Dyke and its historical blue plaque

Samantha PillingHistory

When you stand outside the main entrance at Grim’s Dyke, look to the left and you’ll see a familiar blue plaque. This historical marker usually commemorates the link between the location and a famous person – although in Grim’s Dyke’s case, our historical marker commemorates not one person, but three! In 1976 The Greater London Council issued Grim’s Dyke with … Read More

Grim’s Dyke Architecture: Norman Shaw

Samantha PillingHistory

Architecture

Norman Shaw was commissioned to design a property on the Grime’s Dyke earthworks site, by painter Frederick Goodall in 1872. Known as an urban designer and architect, Shaw played a crucial role in the English Domestic Revival movement. Born in Edinburgh on the 7th May 1831, British architect Shaw worked on both commercial properties and country houses, with styles ranging … Read More

Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘The Gondoliers’

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History, Latest News

Gondoliers

The twelfth savoy opera written by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan was entitled ‘Gondoliers’ (also known as ‘The King of Barataria’). The satire within this opera was firmly focused on two of Gilbert’s fascinations –class distinction and the absurd convergence of natural persons with the legal system. Gilbert avoided major criticism from the British nobility and monarchy, by setting this … Read More

Grim’s Dyke’s History: Frederick Goodall

Samantha PillingHistory, Latest News

Frederick Goodall

In 1856, the (then) 170-acre Grime’s Dyke site was bought by renowned artist, Frederick Goodall. The original Grime’s Dyke earthwork ran across the site, so the fosse was dammed at one end, to make an ornamental stretch of water in the grounds. He’d purchased the Harrow Weald land from the Marquis of Abercorn, but was unable to start building a … Read More

Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

Trial by Jury

In 1868 W.S. Gilbert wrote a one-pace illustrated comic piece for ‘Fun’ Magazine. Entitled Trial by Jury, it drew on his experiences as a barrister and satirised the legal system, spoofing a trial over a ‘breach of promise’ arrangement of marriage. When Gilbert was approached by Carl Rosa, composer and opera manager, in the autumn of 1873 to create a … Read More

The Yeomen of the Guard

Samantha PillingHistory, Latest News

Tower of London

The Yeomen of the Guard was one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s darkest and emotionally engaging Savoy operas. The eleventh collaboration was more subdued and, much to Sullivan’s relief, it was human, straight-forward and had no evidence of Gilbert’s usual trademark satire. Set at The Tower of London in the 16th century, The Yeomen of the Guard premiered at The Savoy … Read More

Catuvellauni Tribe and the Dyke

Samantha PillingHistory, Latest News

Roman Helmet

Take a walk around the grounds of Grim’s Dyke and you’ll see what remains of an ancient Dyke running through our woodlands. The Dyke has a long and speculative history. It is said to have originally been built in the 1st Century by the Catuvellauni tribe to defend against the Romans – but that the very people it was built … Read More

W.S. Gilbert’s love of motor cars

Samantha PillingHistory, Latest News

Old Car

In the latter part of 1902, W.S. Gilbert introduced his first American steam motor car to Grimm’s Dyke and Harrow Weald. His love of the motor car was so strong, he converted the stables at Grim’s Dyke into garages to house the collection he subsequently amassed. But being a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex, with a rather dry sense … Read More

W. S. Gilbert and his menagerie of animals

Samantha PillingHistory, Latest News

Robin Red Breast

W. S. Gilbert had spent thirty-five years being a professional writer, so the decision to retire was a hard one for him. However, retiring allowed him to enjoy the prestige and wealth he’d worked hard to achieve, and this left him free to spend his time at Grim’s Dyke, surrounded by his family and friends. It also gave himself, Lucy … Read More

W. S. Gilbert and the lemurs in his life

Samantha PillingHistory, Latest News

Lemurs

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, most known for his ‘Savoy Operas’ in Victorian England, also had a deep love of animals, particularly his various pet lemurs. The English writer, composer, comedian, actor and singer George Grossmith, is stated as once overhearing Gilbert saying “Deer-stalking would be a very fine sport – if only the deer had guns.” The first lemurs of … Read More