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

Grim’s Dyke, Jazz and the Graham Pike Band

Samantha PillingEntertainment

Graham Pike Jazz Quartet

Officially a quartet, the Graham Pike band comprise an exciting line up of experienced professionals, utilising the sound of piano, bass, drum kit and brass, to name a few. They can be hired as a quartet, trio or duet, enabling audiences of all sizes to experience their unique blend and groove. They make a classy feature at any event, often playing the … 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

The Pall Mall Gazette

Samantha PillingHistory

Pall Mall

The Pall Mall Gazette was a popular conservative newspaper, known for its news and reviews. Throughout W.S. Gilbert’s career, he was no stranger to the pages of the Pall Mall Gazette. His Savoy Operas were often reviewed within its pages and he was also regularly interviewed at his home in Grim’s Dyke. The earliest interview being published on 21st January 1887 (Ruddy-Gore and Savoy … Read More

Irish Soprano Rosa D’Erina

Samantha PillingHistory

Rosa D’Erina

Rosa D’Erina, was an Irish soprano who appeared in a few of W.S. Gilbert’s pieces. Born Rose Anna O’Toole on 22nd February 1848, in Armagh, Ireland, she became known as the prima donna of Erin.  Trained in Paris, D’Erina she was known as Rose of Erin, whilst in her homeland of Ireland, she was always referred to as Rose of the Songs. By the age of 12 she had already become the … Read More

English Bluebells

Samantha PillingThe Gardens


These beautiful woodland plants can be seen throughout any wooded area in the UK, including the woods at Grim’s Dyke. Bluebells need no introduction; they’re instantly recognisable and loved by many. Here’s why we love the Bluebell. #1: Bluebells can spread rapidly! They seed freely and can live in the garden compost easily too. It is said that the UK … Read More

10 facts about Rhododendrons

Samantha PillingThe Gardens


Rhododendrons make for a splendid display in any formal garden. These evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs flower between late winter through to early summer, granting us a beautiful backdrop of large, delicate, exotic-looking flowers. Not only did Lady Gilbert love them, here’s 10 reasons why we do too! #1: Planting Rhododendrons takes some planning Lady Gilbert planted her Rhododendrons … Read More