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Moore: "Picturesque Excursions From Derby to Matlock Bath, 1818"*
Eighteenth and nineteenth century tour guides about Matlock Bath and Matlock
by Henry Moore

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green button EXCURSION [p.57]


Scroll design from Moore's "Picturesque Excursions

A SHORT but very pleasant ride may be taken from Matlock Bath to the village of Matlock, returning over the hills by Cromford Bridge, and by Scarthin Nick, in a circuit of about five miles.

This rout leads over Matlock Bridge, which is a short distance beyond the church rocks: before passing over the bridge, the pedestrian will be gratified by taking a short walk on a path by the river, where he will presently come to some agreeable rock scenery, called Cawdor Tors, that form a good subject for a sketch : the river comes in very interestingly ; it breaks over a multiplicity of stones, above which its unruffled surface receives the reflection of the surrounding objects. From a broken foreground arise the rocks, which are agreeably cloathed with trees. Verdant meadows extend a considerable depth into the scene, and are hemmed in by lofty hills.

The church, from its very picturesque situation upon a rock, will be much admired by those who delight in sketching from nature; and those who do not draw, cannot otherwise than regard it as a very pleasing object in the accompanying scenery, with which it combines well from several points of view.

There are scenes that are interesting to the eye, yet are so little adapted to pictorial representation, as to create no interest in a sketch: on the other hand, whatever is pleasing in a sketch, however simple the subject, will be found to preserve the same interest in nature.

Matlock appears by Doomsday Book to have have been a hamlet of the manor of Metesforde,* which belonged to the crown. It was afterwards possessed by William de Ferrars, Earl of Derby; but on the attainder of his son Robert, for espousing the cause of the Earl of Leicester, it reverted to the crown, and Matlock then became a manor, which was granted to Edmund of Lancaster, by Edward the First. It continued a part of the Earldom and Duchy of Lancaster, until Charles the First granted it to trustees for the mayor and citizens of London, who, the year following, sold it to the copyholders of the manor of Matlock, and it now remains divided into several small shares.

The church, which is dedicated to St.Giles, has a nave, with side aisles, and a small tower at the west end, with crocketted pinnacles. The

[footnote at the bottom of page 58]
*The situation is now unknown.

living is a rectory, and the dean of Lincoln the patron.

The eminence that rises to a great height above the village, is called Riber Hill: on its summit are some singular stones, that are supposed by antiquaries to have been a Druidical altar, or a Cromlech. They are called the Hirst Stones, but do not now appear to be known by that or any other name, as I made several enquiries for them, but without effect. I therefore determined to ascend the hill to search for this piece of antiquity, and struck into a path by the side of a publick house; the sign was some great man on horseback, but whom, I forget. The hill is very high, and very steep; but the views kept improving in grandeur as I walked up, which amply repaid me for every exertion to gain the summit, from whence the view surpasses every thing of the kind I ever beheld. The village of Matlock and the bridge are just underneath our feet, and the Derwent is seen meandering through rich meadows that extend far up the beautiful Darley Dale. Darley bridge, the church, and the village, enliven the middle distance, and are backed by the bold declivities of Stanton Moor, beyond which the high peak hills melt into æther. Nearer at hand, the cultivated eminences, dappled with cottages and trees, rise in fine sweeps, and a stony foreground finishes the picture. The glowing effect of a declining sun in this view beggars description.

"Day's radiant King, 'mid all refulgent glow.
Now sinks on Eve's enamoured bosom slow ;
Enthron'd in clouds majestic round him roll'd ;
While all the landscape melts in fluid gold :
Save where the purple shades, a misty train,
Steal in transparence o'er the mellow'd plain ;
Steal o'er retiring fields, o'er dark'ning woods,
O'er shadowy mountains, and o'er blushing floods.
A thin pellucid veil, while saffron spreads ;
And cloath'd in tints harmonious day recedes.
__________________ Yon stream that winds in haze.
Yon soft'ning distance catch the ethereal blaze ;
In vain shall imitative Art e'er dare
To snatch those glories of resplendent air."

Now here is the object of my search on the very summit of the hill; this altar or cromlech consists of a large stone placed upon three others, on the top of the upper one there is a hole which it is said was the shaft of a column. I cannot think that the three lower stones have been placed there by art; they appear to me to be parts of the solid rock of the mountain which is gritstone; and that the only work of art has been placing the upper stone.* After amusing myself with surveying the different views from this elevated station, and making a sketch, I began to descend ; when turning my eye to the right across the valley, I discovered a cascade pouring its sil-

[footnote at the bottom of page 60]
* A clump of trees will be seen from below on the top of Riber ; the Hirst Stones are very near to them.

very waters down the rocks of a glen, is a region where dusky sterility seems to hold all everlasting reign; not a tree, nor a patch of green is seen, to cheer the gloom of the savage waste, yet several dwellings are there. Curiosity induced me to visit this place, merely to ascertain the motive human beings could have for fixing their abode on such a forbidding spot: I found that great ruler of the actions of man, interest, had prompted them to reside here; it cheers the gloom by dispensing that part of happiness we may term worldly : the stream being admirably calculated for turning over-shot wheels, several bleaching mills are established upon it. The cascade makes a tolerable good sketch; the rocks that it runs over are extremely rugged, and of a brown grits tone ; but the want of verdure and trees renders the colouring monotonous.

The turnpike road to Cromford passes on the back of the High Tor. Near to a group of picturesque cottages is an interesting peep of Matlock Bath, between the termination of those cliffs that are opposite to the baths, and the commencement of those denominated the High Tor. Afterwards, the eminences Burrey Edge and Stonnis, upon Cromford Moor, become the most conspicuous objects, until we reach Cromford bridge; the architecture of the sides is totally different. On the eastern side the arches are pointed, on the western they are circular : this arises from widening the bridge, by adding one of circular arches close to that with pointed ones.

Two artists happening to sketch different sides of this bridge, without observing the opposite one, a dispute arose between them respecting the form of the arches, the one insisting upon them being circular, the other as positively affirming they were pointed: whereupon each produced his sketch, to support his assertion, when each more pertinaciously insisted upon being right. This is a lesson that might teach disputing mortals not to be vehemently confident, lest like these artists, whilst both might be right, so likewise both might be wrong. A remarkable circumstance occured at this bridge a few years ago: a boy being upon a spirited horse, the animal becoming restive, leaped over the wall into the river, and although the height is considerable, yet providentially neither the buy nor the horse received any injury .The boy was playing at marbles in the village a few hours after the accident, so that it would seem fright had not even operated much upon his nerves.

green button EXCURSION [p.63 and a small part of p.64, included only for description of the Bank and Moor]

Scroll design from Moore's "Picturesque Excursions

THIS excursion will make a pleasant ride of about fifteen miles. The road leads by Matlock bridge, and turns a little way towards the village, then suddenly to the left, leading up Matlock bank, by a number of very picturesque cottages. The road is steep, and a bubbling stream hurries along by the side of it, the views from this road are very interesting; the village and church of Matlock, surrounded by lofty mountains, are peculiarly so; and we here readily form a good idea of the comparative heights of the most considerable eminences. Masson maintains a decided superiority of elevation; Burrey Edge, on Cromford Moor, the next; and then Riber Cliff-house, which, in the valley, seemed to occupy the summit of the hill upon which it stands, from here is seen to be very far below it. This deception arises from the point of sight being too near to the mountain, which prevents the summit from being seen. We next come to a dreary waste called the High Moor; one part of it, to the right of the road, appears to be so very ungenial to vegetation, as to induce a belief it would be beyond human art to reduce it to a state of cultivation. However, on the lower parts, the goods effects of a bill of enclosure, are apparent. Human ingenuity has accomplished much. We may therefore even here

"----- Behold a smiling change of scene,
Where earth-born russet turns to lively green ;
Rich pastures rise where deserts spread before ,
And barren wastes recruit the less'ning store."

The road rises until we have a sudden view of a well cultivated valley, which forms a striking contrast to the moor we have just passed.

[No more of the book has been transcibed]

*Transcribed by Ann Andrews in March 2004 from:
"Picturesque Excursions From Derby to Matlock Bath, and its Vicinity ; Being a Descriptive Guide to the Most Interesting Scenery and Curiosities in that Romantic District, With Observations Thereon", by Henry Moore (1818), published by H. Moore, Drawing Master; Printed by T. Wilkinson, Ridgefield, Manchester.
Reproduced here with the very kind permission and help of Jane Steer, whose book this is from. OCRed and images scanned by Ann Andrews