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April - May 2007


Grim's Dyke Hotel 10th Anniversary: A Decade of Good Service

by Krishan Ralleigh

Skerritts of Nottingham Ltd owned by Nat Puri, a business magnate and philonthropist from Nottingham, took over the Grims’ Dyke hotel in May 1996. At that stage the hotel had been in receivership for nearly a year and was exremely tired and run-down looking. The reputation of the hotel could not have been lower, it necessitated the complete closure of the whole hotel whilst a major restoration got underway. This involved a complete new roof, major repairs to the chimneys and new guttering. This had to be done to stabilise the building before the internal décor could be restored and decorated.

Mr Nat Puri was highly impressed by the history and location of the hotel “It was not meant to be a business project for profits. It was my love of British history and culture”, confessed Nat Puri to me in one of our discussions about the possibility of expansion of the Grims’ Dyke hotel. “As a grade 2 * listed building many of the internal features had to be carefully treated and this involved wall paper repairs (some were original when the house was built) where we had to wait for the specialists to finish the great hall at Windsor Castle following its fire in 1992 before they could start on GrimsDyke”, says Paul Follows, its director.

The gardens were restored by the appointed head gardener who brought his expertise and knowledge. He is still caring for the gardens now 10 years later and was principally responsible for winning “London in Bloom” for best small hotel in 2002 and 2004.

The hotel now has a reputation for quality and service in all aspects of its trade including weddings, conferences, fine dining and entertainment which is unique to the property. It is now well respected by the industry and in 2004 won “Visit London” Best Small Hotel of the Year” award. The most recent award being “UK Inbound Hotel Of The Year 2006.” Recently, the hotel has been finalist in the Best Independent Hotel for Groups and attended an awards evening as a finalist in the UK for Best Wedding Venue.

The hotel is proud of the fact that it is the only venue in the world that regularly performs Gilbert and Sullivan Operas and it has its own Opera Company which is recognised internationally as one of the leading exponents of this traditional and popular entertainment.

Ten years on, there are further developments pipelined to enhance the property and to progress its reputation further. According to Paul Follows, “Grim’s Dyke has made a strong contribution to Harrow’s cultural life and is a very popular venue for the local community, which was not the case when we acquired the hotel in 1996”.

Throughout the year Grim’s Dyke pays host to a wide diversity of entertainment, from Murder Mystery Dinners to Gourmet Nights, and from Auction Challenge Dinners to celebrating many other traditional dates in the calendar.

Grim’s Dyke was formally re-opened in 1997 by the Rt. Hon. Kenneth Clarke, Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1998 the grounds were classified a Garden of Historical Significance by English Heritage and attracted Grade II listed status.

Grim’s Dyke’s history can be traced back to Roman England. It was originally a huge defensive earthwork which, over three miles long, formed the boundary of Catuvelauni territory, a tribe that fought the Romans.

The achitect Norman Saw, built the house for Frederick Goodall, who had bought the 170 acre site in 1856. Later on, in 1890 it was sold to Sir William Gilbert, the writing half of the world-famous Gilbert and Sullivan partnership. Gilberts were keen gardeners and agreat lover of nature. They built a boatig lake, a 1.5 acre stretch of water . It was later extended to form a large rectangle roughly 170 yards long by 50 yards wide. In 1906 Gilbert helped found Grimsdyke Golf Club.

Councillors Navin and Rekha Shah with guests

Surroundings of Grim’s Dyke Hotel are one of its most spectacular features. Enchanting mix of wild woodland and formal gardens adorn the fertile 49 acres of land.

A continuing cycle of restoration over the last seven years is evident including many long lost pathways, Gilbert’s orchard with many trees dating back to 1894, which include a Ribbston Pippin invened in 1707. Lady Gilbert’s treasured sunken rose garden has recently been brought back o life. From early spring through to late autumn there are guided tours of the gardens. These tours can be part of a morning coffee, lunch or afernoon tea stopover. With forty four twin and double bedrooms coach parties can be accommodated. Grim’s Dyke is within easy reach of many gardens in Hertfordshire along with London’s attractions such as Kew, Hampton Court and the Royal Park Gardens. it is only 10 miles from London’s West End via the A5 or A41 onto the A410 through Stanmore.

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