Top 10 Gilbert & Sullivan facts

Samantha PillingEntertainment, History

The theatrical partnership of Gilbert & Sullivan produced some of the most memorable comic operas. Although the partnership wasn’t always smooth sailing, it stayed as a form of friendship, right until the end. The partnership also had a massive impact on boosting the career of both men and helped shape the future of musical theatre.  Here are ten top facts … Read More

How the humble Typewriter changed the artistic world

Samantha PillingHistory

In Mark Twain’s autobiography, he claimed to be the first author to submit a typewritten book manuscript for publication. He used a Remington typewriter to type out his manuscripts and, in his autobiography, he states ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ as being the first typewritten manuscript. The year – 1876. It has since been proven that the first typewritten manuscript … Read More

The portraits of W.S. Gilbert

Samantha PillingHistory

The National Portrait Gallery currently has 13 portraits associated to Sir William Schwenck Gilbert.  What’s interesting about all of Gilbert’s portraits is how they all show him as a natural sitter. His relaxed stance is evident in all of those later years portraits and he seems to be equally at home in front of a painter or a camera. Harry … Read More

Victorian Christmas traditions

Samantha PillingHistory

The marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert bought about huge changes for Christmas, as it once was. Up until this point it hadn’t really been recognised as a holiday by businesses and the act of giving presents was something that was reserved for New Year. With the newspapers sharing insights into the newly married royal couples life, the Christmas … Read More

A Gilbert & Sullivan Christmas

Samantha PillingHistory

During their careers, both Gilbert and Sullivan contributed to Christmas entertainment in a variety of ways. Gilbert not only contributed through his written works, but his family also enjoyed spreading the Christmas spirit through their parties and pantomimes. Sullivan did not have a family, but he kept himself busy with his compositions, including four Christmas carols and opera collaborations with … Read More

Christmas cards – a very Victorian tradition

Samantha PillingHistory

Christmas is a time for giving and, for many households, Christmas cards are an essential part of that giving tradition, a way to spread the joy and cheer of happy holiday greetings. However, Christmas cards weren’t always cheerful or traditional! The first commercial Christmas cards were created by Sir Henry Cole in 1843. A senior civil servant, Cole wanted to … Read More

Popular Victorian Parlour Games

Samantha PillingHistory

Parlour games were incredibly popular during the Victorian era, as I’m sure Sir and Lady Gilbert would attest! They were played primarily by the middle and upper classes, as a means to entertain dinner party guests and small family gatherings. Parlour games were designed for indoor entertainment and were primarily played in the parlour; hence the name ‘parlour game’. They … Read More

5 Victorian inventions that inadvertently helped shape the British landscape

Samantha PillingHistory

The Victorian era was a time of great inventions and discoveries. Numerous Victorian inventions have shaped how we live and work, but there are several that impacted on how the country looked too. Here are 5 of the best-loved ones. The postage stamp Sir Rowland Hill, an English teacher and social reformer, came up with the idea for the adhesive … Read More

Sir John Betjeman

Samantha PillingHistory

Sir John Betjeman CBE, was the writer and narrator behind the critically-acclaimed BBC documentary ‘Metro-land’. It celebrated suburban life in the northwest of London and featured Grim’s Dyke and Harrow Weald during the 50-minute, 1973 documentary. But what do we know about Sir John Betjeman? Born in London on 28th August 1906, Betjeman was born into a prosperous family. His … Read More

The Champions & Grim’s Dyke

Samantha PillingHistory

British adventure TV series The Champions may only have had 30 episodes broadcast, but it was one of the many programmes that used Grim’s Dyke as a filming location. It starred Stuart Damon, Alexandra Bastedo and William Gaunt as agents for a fictional United Nations Law Enforcement organisation called Nemesis, based in Geneva. The premise of the show was that the heroes had perfected human abilities, … Read More