The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Sussex

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Sussex

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On Sunday 5th July 2015

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Sussex Visited

Grim’s Dyke the home of
 Sir W S Gilbert
and his wife

Also their Grave at
 St John’s Church Stanmore

37 Members travelled by coach to Grim’s Dyke, now a hotel, the former home of Sir William Schwenck Gilbert and his wife Lucy Agnes Turner, known as "Kitty" where they lived from 1890 until their deaths in 1911 and 1936 respectively.

We were warmly welcomed by the staff who were to take us on a tour of the hotel and grounds.


1194-031 Grim’s Dyke from the croquet lawn

The house was designed by the architect R Norman Shaw in 1870, for the then successful painter Frederick Goodall who had purchased the land in 1856, Goodall started to landscape the grounds ahead of the building. In 1880 it was purchased by Robert Herriot of Hambros Bank who extended the building, this included he addition


of a billiard room in 1883.

Gilbert purchased the property in 1890 for £4000, at this time his income was £12,000 pa. He converted Goodall’s huge studio into his drawing room it was in this room we had our sumptuous tea.

1194-037 Goodall’s former studio and the Gilbert’s drawing room

Gilbert composed his last ten works in his library which was at the rear of the house overlooking the croquet lawn. He also had an astronomical observatory; there were also a vinery, apiary, orchards and a


home farm. Lady Gilbert designed 30 acres of ornamental gardens which have been retained by the  hotel.

He also kept a variety of exotic animals including monkeys, lemurs, a lynx, a donkey named ‘Adelina Patti’ because of its braying, a pair of ponies, ‘Bryant & May’ because they were a perfect match also a pair of Persian cats ‘William & Mary’. A meal times in the dining room all the dogs and cats had their bowls laid on the floor round the table and the staff attended to these as well as the family.


1194-045 Ian & Barbara Sayers


After the tour of the grounds we sat down to a Savoy Style sumptuous tea.

Following this we departed for the short journey to St John the Evangelist church Stanmore and the Gilberts’ grave.

Here Sylvia Nixon read Mad Margaret’s Ballad from Ruddigore during which Barbara  Sayers and Christine Colbourne laid flowers.



Mad Margaret’s Ballad

To a garden full of posies

   Cometh one to gather flowers,

   And he wanders through its bowers

Toying with the wanton roses,

   Who, uprising from their beds,

   Hold on high their shameless heads

With their pretty lips a-pouting,

Never doubting, never doubting

   That for Cytherean posies

   He would gather aught but roses!

In a nest of weeds and nettles

   Lay a violet, half-hidden,

   Hoping that his glance unbidden

Yet might fall upon her petals.

   Though she lived alone, apart,

   Hope lay nestling at her heart,

But, alas, the cruel awaking

Set her little heart a-breaking,

    For he gathered for his posies

    Only roses, only roses!

1194-053 Sylvia Nixon

Return to ‘Recent Events’ for some information about the final resting places of Sir W S Gilbert and Richard D’Oyly Carte.

There had been a raffle on the coach to fund the flowers we placed on this grave and a donation to St Johns Church, this donation amounted to £22.00.

Richard D’Oyly Carte’s Grave

Grave Richard D'Oyly Carte

Arthur Sullivan’s Grave

Grave Arthur Sullivan

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