p.11 [continued] MATLOCK-BATH.
The high-road at MATLOCK-BATH, along which stand terraces of handsome
houses, detached villas, hotels, museums and shops, runs through
verdant vistas, along the western side of the river Derwent, meandering
in its fertilizing course through delightful valleys, and bounded
by undulating hills, whose sides are richly clothed with woods,
and studded with "modest mansions," more ambitious residences
and rural cots, which rising ridge over ridge to the craggy heights,
command a succession of prospects, whose varying beauty never fails
to be appreciated with admiring delight. A ramble by the serpentine
walks, which gradually lead up the ascent from the Museum Parade
to the "Heights of Abraham" (denoted by a tower on their
summit, not only discloses the diversified views of the landscape,
but conducts the visitor to the RUTLAND CAVERN, one of the most
remarkable curiosities, which have given a more than national celebrity
to the district. These caverns are, for the most part, excavated
mines, which have been worked, from age to age, by successive generations
from the olden time, when those mighty masters of the world, the
ancient Romans, left the memorials of their power and skill in
Britain - till their subterranean chambers ceased to yield a remuneration
for the toil of the exploring labourers.
CAVERN - DEVONSHIRE CAVERN.
The RUTLAND CAVERN is exceedingly grand in its rude aspect of rugged
solemnity; spacious enough, it is said, to conceal ten thousand
men; and when lighted up, the effect is remarkably startling. It
is beautifully ornamented by the hand of nature, with varieties
of metallic ores, and those brilliant crystallizations which abound
in this neighbourhood, formed by the dripping of water through the
roof and sides, impregnated with minute particles of crystal. These
particles, when the cave is illuminated, glitter like thousands
of gems, while the deep shade of the inner recesses, the strange
forms assumed by the rocks, the vaulted arches of its lofty roof,
and the mysterious echoes, give to the imaginative mind so much
of the character of romantic enchantment, that one scarcely feels
thankful to have the spell broken by any prosy dissertation, so
often intruded, on its geological peculiarities. The cavern is dry
and easy of access; and should be visited by those who take an interest
in the wonders and curiosities of creation. Emerging from the dark
recesses of the cavern, we realize Cowper's exclamation :-
breath of unadulterate air-
The glimpse of a green pasture-how they cheer
The citizen, and brace his languid frame! "
and proceeding downwards
along the hill side, (about halfway up Masson) we reach the DEVONSHIRE
CAVERN. No human being, can enter one of these subterraneous caverns
- strange laboratories of nature - Without the most impressive feelings
of awe and wonder. Long winding paths, awful chasms, immense cavities,
massy pillars, large detached stones, sparry decorations, mineral
ores imbedded in the rock, an apparently interminable succession of
the wild and wonderful, are the principal characteristics of these
underground curiosities. In one part, an immense natural roof
of stone, 200 feet long, and 40 broad, flat and
regular as the ceiling of a room, excites admiration; in another,
a fearful cavity, a kind of Wolf's Glen scene, where the witches
in Macbeth might appropriately ply their horrid "deed
without a name," attracted our notice; and an involuntary exclamation
of astonishment and delight burst from our party, as, our candles
being extinguished, a Bengal Light, ingeniously placed on the summit
of a colossal pillar of rock, fantastically, though not inaptly
called the Druid's Altar, suddenly threw its vivid glare around
the cave, illuminating its dreary recesses in an almost supernatural
manner, and reminding us of the spectral superstitions which the
lovers of romance so often describe.
On leaving this cavern, we pass, by a delightful path along ; the
Heights, from which many varied and splendid landscapes may be viewed,
to the DUNGEON TORS, or ROMANTIC ROCKS: which are situated near the
top of the wood behind the Old Bath. There is a lofty hill or precipice,
covered with wood, and beneath it a vast mass of limestone, having
a perpendicular face, in some parts fifty or sixty feet high. This
face may be considered as divided into two portions, running in different
directions, in such a manner, that they would form nearly a right
angle at their junction, were there not in that part a projection
of the rock, causing it to form two angles instead of one. From these
angles, in one of which is the mouth of a mine, several very large
fragments have separated; and what is very remarkable, they remain
in an erect posture, some of them rising to a great height, and consisting
of several enormous stones, piled one upon another, in the regular
manner of masonwork. The passage betwixt these detached cliffs and
the parent rock, if it may be so termed, varies in breadth from four
to ten or twelve feet, and is about thirty yards in length.
MINE AND CUMBERLAND CAVERN.
It is decorated on each side with moss, yew, and pendant ivy, and
the gloominess of it is much deepened by the numerous trees that
grow on the steep hill above, and hang over it; the whole forming
a romantic group, not easy to be described.* The ground adjoining
these rocks is overspread with a multitude of stones of large size,
covered with moss and wild plants; and amidst them are numerous tall
ashes and elms, some of them invested with a mantle of ivy to their
very summits. In short, there is not anything near Matlock that more
deserves inspection than these most remarkable rocks; nor are they
less worthy of attention than Chee Tor, the High Tor, or any other
of those Tors, in the delineation of which Derbyshire tourists dwell
with so much apparent satisfaction.
Through these Romantic Rocks is the entrance to the NEW SPEEDWELL
MINE in the Upper Wood, which is in many respects one of the most
interesting and beautiful of the Matlock Caverns; all of which
are capable of being easily and comfortably explored, under the
direction of the guides resident in their vicinity.
Messrs. Smedley's CUMBERLAND CAVERN is the oldest and, geologically
considered, the most remarkable of these astonishing excavations;
exhibiting singular combinations t and wonderful contrasts, that
cannot fail to impress the ordinary observer, and to perplex the
conjectures of the studious.
Leaving the locality of these caverns by a gentle and picturesque
declivity, which leads down to the high-road through the dale,
the path discloses a succession of charming landscapes of surpassing
interest and beauty.
* Much of the timber has recently been felled.
Geological Descriptions of the Caverns are given in an Appendix.
PARADE-CHURCH AT MATLOCK-BATH.
The MUSEUM PARADE is a pleasant and cheerful promenade, in which
are situated the principal shops and places of business; prominent
among which are the museums, the proprietors of which have on sale
most interesting and beautiful collections of natural curiosities,
and every variety of Derbyshire Spars, worked up with admirable taste
and skill, into articles of personal and domestic use and ornament.
An hour or two spent in these establishments, will not only gratify
the feeling which induced the poet to exclaim -"A
thing of beauty is a joy for ever," but will inform the mind,
by making it familiar with the geological peculiarities of the district,
and its remarkable productions; these Museums forming, as it were,
a series of illustrations to the book of knowledge, which Nature
here expands for the consideration of intelligent inquirers.
The general appearance of the Bath has during the few last years
been greatly improved by the erection of villas and other houses
and shops. A Branch Bank has been opened by the Derby and Derbyshire
Banking Co., and a handsome new Wesleyan Chapel has been built,
in Derwent Terrace.
On the side of the picturesque road leading to the Parade, stands
the Church, which forms a pleasing object in landscape, with its
handsome tower, and " heaven-directed spire," suggestive
of gratitude to the Almighty Power, amidst the glorious works of
Whose hands it has been raised, as a memorial of faith and love.
The foundation-stone was laid on June 9, 1841, by the Venerable
Archdeacon Shirley, afterwards Bishop of Sodor and Man ; and the
Church was consecrated on October 5, 1842, by the Bishop of Hereford,
officiating for the Bishop of the Diocese, who was then suffering
from illness. It was erected from designs by Messrs. Weightman
and Hadfield, of Sheffield, at a cost of
£2,260, in the decorated style of Gothic architecture ; cruciform
in shape, with a tower and crocketed spire at the west end, 129 feet
high. The chancel window of five lights, has some good tracery, elegantly
filled with stained glass, and is rich and handsome. The length of
the interior, from west to east, is 95 feet, and the breadth 27 feet
3 inches ; the transepts from north to south are 53 feet, and the
width 21 feet. At the time of its erection, it was thought an excellent
specimen of its kind; but the advances lately made in ecclesiastical
architecture and other arrangements for divine worship, will readily
suggest several points for improvement to critical minds; although,
as a convenient and handsome
"house of prayer," it must be dear to all, whether residents
or tourists, who value the ministrations of the Church.