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The Grimsdyke hotel Halloween ghost hunt

The hotel takes its name from an ancient defensive earthwork which runs for three miles from Pinner Hill to Bentley Priory and which dates back to Roman times. The earthworks formed part of the boundary of the territory belonging to the Catuvellauni tribe of Ancient Britons and was constructed to help keep out marauding Romans.

The earthworks were originally known in Anglo-Saxon times as Grim’s Ditch but the word ‘Ditch’ evolved over the ages into ‘Dyke’ for reasons that are not known. The land on which the hotel stands is carved out of the estate of the ancient Augustinian Priory of St Gregory which was founded by Ranulf de Glanville who subsequently became Chancellor and Chief Justiciar of England. The original Priory building is thought to have stood in nearby Clamp Hill and in 1248 it was renamed the Priory Bentley in memory of a monk who had been accidentally killed there.

 

In later history it belonged to the Dean of Canterbury before falling into the hands of Henry VIII, not by reason of the Reformation but because it was swapped by Thomas Cranmer for lands in Wimbledon. Granted by the Crown to William Sacheverell and Robert Needham in 1546, the land passed through many hands until 1788 when it was purchased by the 9th Earl of Abercorn.

 

As a private house prior to becoming a hotel the Grim’s Dyke’s 140-year history was very much tied up with the fortunes of four famous Victorians – an artist, an architect, a banker and the greatest comic dramatist of the age.

 

The building that is now the hotel was designed by the architect Norman Shaw as a country house for the eminent Victorian artist Frederick Goodall. Goodall in 1856 had purchased 100 acres of land at Harrow Weald from the 2nd Marquess of Abercorn which included the site of the present building. Shaw and Goodall were kindred spirits and were both members of a social circle that met throughout the 1840s at Redleaf in Kent. Building work on the house started in 1870 and Goodall and his family took up residence two years later but they only lived there for a few years. For both professional and family reasons Goodall missed being so far out of London and in 1880 he sold the house to Robert Heriot, a partner in the private bank CJ Hambro & Son, and moved to St. John’s Wood. Heriot was effectively in day to day control of the bank particularly when its then chairman Everard Hambro was either hunting in Scotland or at his home in Biarritz.

 

In 1883 Heriot added a billiard room designed by Arthur Cawston adjacent to what was formerly Goodall’s studio. This room included an inglenook fireplace but it was designed in a coarse Gothic style quite out of keeping with Shaw’s original scheme. Ten years later, Heriot put the house on the market, retaining Shaw’s services as an agent. By now the grounds were showing signs of neglect but this did not deter Sir William and Lady Gilbert who were to become the house’s last and arguably most illustrious owners. They viewed the property while touring in the neighbourhood and then set about organising the purchase for £4000 in August 1890.

 

Gilbert had an international reputation as one of the foremost English dramatists and his collaboration with Sir Arthur Sullivan resulted in one of opera’s most enduring and successful partnerships. His plays, both comedies and drama, had been a popular feature of London theatrical life since 1867. At one point he had five shows running simultaneously at different London theatres and in addition, touring companies were taking his work to the suburbs of the metropolis and to the provinces. . During their 21 years at Grim’s Dyke Sir William and Lady Gilbert made many changes to the 40 acres of grounds surrounding the house. Sir William created a home farm which gave him plenty of scope to indulge his great fondness for animals. He grazed a small herd of thoroughbred Jerseys and also kept pigs and poultry. . The construction of the lake which had a surface area of around 1.5 acres was probably the biggest gardens and grounds project undertaken by Sir William and his wife but it was also the place where Sir William met his untimely death on May 29 1911.

 

He used to bathe there in the summer and one day gave two local girls permission to swim with him. However one of the girls got into difficulties and Sir William tragically drowned trying to save her. Lady Gilbert stayed on at the house until her own death in 1936 when it was acquired by the Middlesex County Council and the London County Council who jointly leased it to the North West Regional Hospital Board. It was used from 1937 to 1962 as a rehabilitation centre initially during the Second World War for women suffering from tuberculosis although after the war male patients were also admitted for rehabilitation. Recently, it has emerged that the Grim’s Dyke was used for secret military work during the Second World War. Details of this work remain classified until the 2040’s but it is believed that the house was used to examine captured German machinery and parts of shot down aircraft which were analysed by Allied scientists from Bletchley Park. This secret work was so important to the war effort that it is thought that both Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower visited the house.

 

Several well-known TV series and feature films at the time were filmed here and the house and grounds can be seen in several classic Hammer House Of Horror productions. In addition much of the iconic 70’s comedy ‘Futtocks End’, which was written by and starred the late Ronnie Barker who at one stage lived in nearby Pinner. was filmed at the Grim’s Dyke. The hotel is still used by film and tv companies. The wedding night scene from last year’s ‘One Chance’ about the life of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ winner Paul Potts was filmed at the hotel and location scenes for ‘Eastenders’ and ‘Holby City’ are regularly filmed here.

 

 

Event Properties

Event Date 30-10-2022 8:00 pm
Event End Date 31-10-2022 2:00 am
Registration Start Date 31-01-2022 12:00 am
Capacity 30
Registered 6
Available places 24
Individual Price £79.00
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