[continued] PETRIFYING WELLS-MEDICINAL SPRINGS.
In this immediate vicinity, placed on either side of the road,
are several so-called PETRIFYING WELLS, where may be seen various
articles in all stages of encrustation; which is caused by the
limestone precipitated from the water of the springs among the
hills, as it rapidly evaporates, in the act of falling upon the
objects placed underneath the stream for the purpose of petrifaction.
A call at these wells, one of which, on the road-side, near the
approach to the Old Bath, was visited by the Queen, when Princess
Victoria, in 1832, will afford both amusement and information.
The MEDICINAL SPRINGS, to which Matlock-Bath owes
its rise and present popularity, were first brought into public
notice in the the year 1698; how, or by whom, has not transpired;
but its beginnings were very homely, and its progress to celebrity
very slow, as many years elapsed before the original wooden
shed, which marked the site of the spring, was superseded by
a more substantial building; for in 1724, Daniel Defoe, the
celebrated author of "Robinson Crusoe,"
in his " Tour through England," thus speaks of it-"
This bath would be much more frequented than it is, if a sad stony
mountainous road which leads to it, and no good accommodation
when you are there, did not hinder; for from the. Bath you are
to cross over the meadows, and then ascend a Derbyshire hill,
before you meet with a house of refreshment. For some miles
before you come to Matlock, you pass over barren moors, in perpetual
danger of slipping into coal-pits and lead-mines, or ride for
miles together on the edge of a steep hill, on solid slippery
rock, or loose stones, with a valley underneath, the bottom
of which you can hardly discover with your eye."
Ten years afterwards, when the property had passed into the hands
of Messrs. Smith and Pennell, of Nottingham, who are said to have
given £1000 for the estate, some improvements were effected;
roads opened, the bath enlarged with convenient offices, which ultimately
developed into further extensions by different proprietors, until
in 1803 they assumed a fixed importance as the OLD BATH HOTEL, with
every accommodation for the reception of visitors on a large and
fashionable scale of entertainment. It soon became a popular rendezvous
for the principal families of the Midland Counties; and was made
classic ground in public estimation, by the many authors, who, like
Sir Walter Scott, often enjoyed their learned leisure here; or who,
like Lord Byron, repaired hither to meet the fair companions of
their youth; and muse in sentimental fancy - as he did with the
heiress of Annesley - on the thrilling joys of " first and
passionate love." But
"The day of its destiny's over,
The star of its fate hath declined;"
and the Old Bath Hotel, where Scott nursed
his romantic enthusiasm, and Byron his poetic imagination, became,
p.18 THE OLD BATH.
amidst all the extending popularity of Matlock, a "shut-up" and
neglected road-side inn.
Its Baths, however, continued in use; the waters with which they
are supplied having medicinal properties, which are most efficacious
in bilious and rheumatic complaints, the first stages of consumption,
gout, and all cases of debility arising from relaxation of the muscular
fibres. The temperature of the waters, as they issue from the springs,
is 68 degrees Fahrenheit - about 14 degrees lower than those at
Buxton - their specific gravity 1.003, and their constituents, free
carbonic acid, with muriates and sulphates of magnesia, lime, and
soda, in very minute quantities. Dr. Thomson, in his " Materia
Medica," classes this water with the calcareous, and considers
pure. "The hot springs flow out at an elevation of about
100 feet above the river; but these sources are now hidden, and
the water is conveyed in pipes and covered channels into the Baths
and Petrifying Wells. One of the streams is seen flowing from
a field into the road, under which it passes opposite Smedley's
spar shop; and another forms a beautiful little waterfall, after
passing through the Old Bath stable-yard, by flowing over the
rough tufa margin behind the stables."
In the year 1866, the picturesque situation of the Old Bath, and
the ancient celebrity of its springs, attracted the attention of
a number of visitors, who, in conjunction with a few influential
residents, formed themselves into a Company, under the provisions
of the Limited Liability Act, with a nominal Capital of £25,000,
for the purpose of erecting on the site a new building, combining
all the conveniences and requisites of a first-class Hydropathic
Establishment. In furtherance of this design, Messrs. Whyatt and
Redford of Manchester, were engaged as the Archi-
tects, under whose direction a handsome edifice has been built,
after the domestic Gothic style of the fourteenth century , with
all adaptations to modern requirements, and with a tasteful regard
to its romantic position. The establishment is divided into two departments;
one consisting of the residential portion, and the other appropriated
to Thermal purposes; they are connected by an enclosed corridor,
intended to serve as a conservatory and a promenade. In front of
the building is a terrace, under which are the kitchens, housekeeper's
and other rooms, connected with the domestic arrangements of the
establishment. On the ground-floor are the reception rooms, and apartments
for the stewards and physicians, dining hall, library, drawing and
private sitting rooms, lavatories, and other accommodations. On the
floors above are sixty-seven chambers, some of which can be used
for two beds, and are en
private sitting rooms. A prospect tower, erected over the staircase,
affords grand views of the charming landscape. The approach to
the establishment for visitors, is by a carriage-porch on the
terrace. The Thermal arrangements include a large swimming-bath,
and a number of baths required for medicinal purposes.
Besides the Baths at the Old Hotel, there is another establishment
of the kind at the NEW BATH HOTEL, and a third at the FOUNTAIN
GARDENS, near to the north end of the Museum Parade; all
available for public accommodation, and all of course supplied
from the natural medicinal springs which flow from the hills.
The Swimming Bath is supplied by a natural spring of the temperature
of 68 degrees; the bath is 18 feet wide, and 5 feet deep.
The NEW BATH HOTEL owes its origin to the discovery of a second
tepid spring, some years after the establishment of the Old Bath.
It has of late been considerably enlarged
and improved, and now affords most excellent accommodation to passing
tourists, resident visitors, and private families. It is delightfully
situated, and its beautiful gardens, which command charming views,
are kept in admirable order; their chief glory being a magnificent
lime tree, nearly two centuries old, covering an area of more than
one hundred feet in diameter. Naturalists ascribe the luxurious growth
and vigour of this noble tree to the effect of the stream of tepid
water which constantly runs beneath its roots in its flow to the
Of other Hotels, the principal are WALKER'S and the TEMPLE. The former
is pleasantly situated at the north end of New Bath Terrace, near
the Church, and is well adapted in all its regulations and resources
for the comfort, convenience and enjoyment of visitors. Its excellent
means of accommodation for pleasure-parties are also highly appreciated,
as well as its arrangements for private families.
The TEMPLE HOTEL is on the hill-side, at an elevation of 150 feet
above the level of the valley; a number of terraces prettily laid
out on the declivity, constituting it a pleasant and picturesque place
HODGKINSON'S HOTEL is a comfortable house of the tavern class, in
the Museum Parade, in very good repute ; and, besides the establishments
above-named, there are other places of public reception and entertainment,
and many excellent lodging-houses most respectably conducted.
A lounge along the Museum Parade will lead to the FERRY, where, under
Mr. Walker's direction, and also by Mr. Buxton, opposite The Library,
boats may be had for a delightful row upon the gently-flowing waters
of the Derwent, which ripple at the base of the wood-clad rocks on
the eastern side of the dale, and soothe the ear by their gentle murmurs,
as they fall in silver streams over
the not very distant weir, near the entrance to Willersley Park.
The visitor will be much pleased with the tranquil charms of this
aquatic retreat; and should not return to the vale, without landing
to explore the LOVERS' WALKS,
which form a most picturesque ramble through verdant vistas, and
open out a series of beautiful prospects, that will not fail to
excite admiration, and to dwell in the memory as pictures of pleasure.
" So pure, so clear, the woods, the sky, the
It seems a spot where angels might repair,
And tune their harps, beneath its tranquil shades,
To morning songs and moonlight serenades."
And well we remember, that the first sight we ever had of this
happy valley - long before the fiery dragon of the iron roads
had invaded its repose - was on a glorious evening, as we approached
it by the road from Cromford.
" All nature seemed
Fond of tranquillity;
The winds were all at rest, and in the east
The crescent moon, then seen imperfectly,
Came onwards with the vesper star, to see
A summer day's decline."
Just as we entered the romantic dale in which Matlock-Bath is
situated, by an approach at once rude, striking, and majestic -
the road having been formed through an immense limestone rock,
by blasting the stone with gunpowder [transcriber's note : Scarthin
Nick] - as we passed along the valley, the joyous sounds of music
at the foot of the rocks came floating over the waters with a happy
effect from a band of minstrels, who, in this practice of their
witching art perhaps thought, with Shakspere, that
" Soft stillness and the night
Became the touches of sweet harmony. "
Be that as it may, the impression left upon the mind has
never been effaced; and future visits have realized the conviction,
that in such a spot as this, music sounds most sweetly in unison
with the harmonies of creation and the music of the spheres; and
that a moonlight view of Matlock Dale is remarkably grand and impressive.