During the years that W. S. Gilbert lived at Grim’s Dyke, dinners were run firmly by Gilbert’s rules. He would always have a pretty woman on either side of him, something he immensely enjoyed and Lady Gilbert would gracefully tolerate.
It wasn’t unusual for Grim’s Dyke dinner parties to consist of the family, guests, dogs and lemurs. This provided a popular talking point, as both lemurs, Job and his predecessor Paul, would perch on Gilbert’s shoulder during the evening.
Gilbert and Lucy were delightful hosts. Whilst Gilbert and Nancy would entertain their guests with their singing, Lucy would sit smiling her appreciation and adoration.
Gilbert & Sullivan: a Victorian-era theatrical partnership
Both W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan jointly created 14 comic operas during the period 1871 to 1896. The most well-known include The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S Pinafore and The Mikado. Gilbert would provide the words, whilst Sullivan (who was six years his junior) would provide the memorable melodies.
Gilbert & Sullivan operas are still enjoyed throughout the world and they had a massive impact on the development of musical theatre, throughout the 20th century. Not only affecting just the world of musical theatre, they have also influenced political discourse, literature, film and television – so much so, producer Richard D’Oyly Carte built the Savoy Theatre in 1881, for Gilbert & Sullivan to present their joint works. These later became known as the Savoy Operas.
Keeping the music alive
W. S. Gilbert would entertain his guests in the Music Room at Grim’s Dyke – and, here at Grim’s Dyke we have the great privilege of being able to keep that tradition alive.
Here at Grim’s Dyke we hold regular Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Dinners throughout the year. During summer, they consist of a 2-course supper, during winter; a 2-course dinner.
A black tie affair (although smart suits are acceptable too!), these evenings continue the Gilbert’s tradition of hosting evenings in the Music Room. Each event consists of guests enjoying their first course, followed by the first act – and full costumed performance – of one of the great Gilbert & Sullivan operas. This is followed up by the main course and then the main course, desert and coffee, and then the final act.
These ever-popular evenings are the signature performances in our entertainment programme, dating back to 1892, when Sir William Gilbert himself would entertain.
They are our way of showing our great love of this magnificent building, the history surrounding it, and the Victorian-era theatrical partnership of Gilbert & Sullivan… helping to keep their music (and the love for it) alive.
Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Dinners are held throughout the year. If you’d like to find out more about Grim’s Dyke Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Dinners, please check out our What’s On page.