The fairytale toadstool: Amanita muscaria

Samantha PillingThe Gardens

Toadstools and mushrooms are a common sight in the UK. Whether you’re talking about the Victorian era or today, there are two instantly recognisable descriptions; one is that of the closed cup mushroom – and the other is the Amanita muscaria toadstool. You could be forgiven though, for not recognising it from its official name but, if I told you it was red with … Read More

November poppies: Their poignant history and interesting facts

Samantha PillingHistory

Amazing poppy field . Summer flowers .

  November is a month marked and remembered by poppies. In Britain, iconic red poppies are distributed by volunteers for the Royal British Legion every year. They are worn as a mark of respect for the fallen service men and women killed in conflict, during the two World Wars, as well as those who have fallen since. Wreathes made of … Read More

Annie Hall Cudlip

Samantha PillingHistory

Book

Better known by her pen name Mrs Pender Cudlip, Annie Hall Cudlip was considered one of the most prolific romantic fiction writers of the Victorian era. She was also an early sweetheart of Sir William Schwenck Gilbert. Annie Hall Thomas was born on 25th October 1838. The only daughter of George Thomas, a gentleman officer from County Cork and lieutenant … Read More

The mighty English oak tree

Samantha PillingUncategorised

shutterstock_101169685

When it comes to instantly recognisable trees, the English oak has to be top of the tree. It’s one of the most common tree species in the UK and possibly one of the best-loved too. So, what makes the oak such a special tree? Here’s our compilation of the top ten facts about this wonderful tree. #1: It doesn’t produce … Read More

Squirrels at Grim’s Dyke

Samantha PillingUncategorised

Squirrel

If you happened to be invited by Sir W.S. Gilbert, to a party at Grim’s Dyke during the Victorian era, you’d stand a good chance of seeing a squirrel or two, running around the grounds. Red squirrels were a common sight, in the 1800’s. Today, you will still see squirrels running around the grounds – but they’ll be of the grey variety. … Read More

Bushey Heath Cottage Hospital

Samantha PillingUncategorised

Bushey heath Hospital 3

  Both Sir W.S. Gilbert and his wife Lucy, were actively involved in local affairs and Bushey Heath Cottage Hospital was one of the benefactors. Sir William was Honorary Secretary there and would hold charity performances to raise funds for it. Lady Gilbert, would arrange Christmas entertainment and parties, usually involving conjurors, magic, tea and sandwiches.   The Bushey Heath Cottage … Read More

10 things to look for, when booking a romantic wedding venue

Samantha PillingWeddings

Romantic Wedding

When it comes to weddings, some women grow up with firm ideas about how their perfect day will look. For many, their wedding day needs to be the most romantic day of their lives, based on the fairy-tale stories of princes and princesses they grew up with. It’s no wonder then, that booking a romantic wedding venue for this fairy-tale day is top of … Read More

The hobbies and interests of W.S. Gilbert

Samantha PillingHistory

Old Library Books

W.S. Gilbert enjoyed indulging in his hobbies and interests, whilst at Grim’s Dyke. He not only found them creative and inspiring, they bought him closer to his family and allowed him to spend time in the grounds at Grim’s Dyke – something he loved dearly. Grim’s Dyke – one of Gilberts greatest hobbies Grim’s Dyke wasn’t only his home, it … Read More

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