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Matlock Bath: Old Bath Hotel Engraving, 1776
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The Cascade near Matlock Bath, late 18th century

Old Bath 1779

Old Bath 1806

From the Temple House 1810

Cumming's Old Bath 1840

Riverbank about 1880

A View of Matlock Bath in Derby shire
one of "a Variety of Copper plate cuts, neatly engraved". Artist and engraver not known.

The following description has been extracted from "A New Display of the Beauties of England ...", where the engraving was published.[1]

"Matlock [Bath] is a most delightful village, and is much celebrated for its bath, to which many people resort in the summer. It is situated near the river Derwent, and consists of a large range of elegant houses, built in the most uniform manner, with stables and out-houses. The bath is divided into two rooms, one for the gentlemen and one for the ladies, and over them are very convenient rooms for the use of those whose disorders oblige them to bathe frequently. The ladies bath is finely arched over with stone ; and at one end of it are several convenient rooms, with apartments for servants.

The assembly room is on the right hand, and at the top is a music-room, to which you ascend by a grand staircase. There is a fine terrace before the house, and near it is a place where the gentlemen divert themselves in the evenings. From this place there is a rocky shelf, descending to the river, which is extremely rapid, and runs with such a murmuring noise, as fills the mind with a pleasing admiration".

William Bray provides a sense of scale. "The bath is twenty yards above the river, and from it to the top of the rocks on the west side of the house is 120 yards perpendicular, where stand some small cottages" (also quoted on Old Bath 1779). The cottages are not included in this view, but a rather curious tent like structure is to the right of the hotel.

The open ground above the River Derwent was littered with boulders - these were actually pieces of tufa, a stone that can become very hard. The river's edge appears to have been very rocky at that time and there are large pieces of tufa in the river itself. Bray noted that:

"All along this course of warm waters, from their first eruption down to the river, are vast heaps of petrifactions, which are soft before they are exposed to the air, and very light, but afterwards turn to a smoaky blue colour ... when they [i.e. the waters] begin to lose their warmth and motion, the petrifactions are found".

He also observed that the situation of the New Bath was much pleasanter than that of the Old Bath, but the Old Bath was much larger.

The outflow/cascade from the old bath's thermal spring into the river can be seen just below the centre of the engraving. The ferry crossing, which several early writers mention using to cross over to the Lovers' Walks, would have been to the right of this image.

The hotel's buildings (enlargement).
The oval stone commemorating the Old Bath's rebuilding by Smith & Pennell seems to be on a different part of the
building from later images.

The hotel was a notable meeting place and 1776 was the year when a significant Parliamentary Act came into being for the district, legislation that would have major consequences. The Commissioners met at the Old Bath. Robert Mason was the hotel's proprietor at this time.

Derby Mercury 29 December 1775 to January 5 1776
NOTICE is hereby GIVEN,
That the Commissioners appointed in and by an Act of Parliament, intitled "An Act for dividing and inclosing certain Commons or Pieces of waste Ground, in the Parishes of Bonsall, Wirksworth, and Matlock, in the County of Derby," intend to meet at Matlock Old Bath, on Wednesday the Seventeenth Day of January next, for the Purpose of putting the said Act into Execution.
Derby, Dec. 30th, 1775.

Images from the same book or in other volumes of the work:

High Torr &C,
1751 and 1776

Crumford near
Matlock Bath

Eighteenth Century Lists: Statute Labour for Mending the Highways, 1761. Amongst the people listed were the "Injoyers of Ould Bath".
The proprietors of the Old Bath and Robert Mason are mentioned in Eighteenth Century Lists: Poor Rate, 1784 (part 2)
Mr. Mason's Hotel is mentioned by a gentleman called H. Rooke in on site extracts of The Gentleman's Magazine Library, 1731-1868, pp.46-7

See FAQ: Tufa for a description of how tufa is formed.

The above engraving was published in "A New Display of the Beauties of England: or, A description of the most elegant or magnificent public edifices, royal palaces, noblemen's and gentlemen's seats, and other curiosities, natural or artificial, in different parts of the kingdom ..." Published London: R. Goadby, 1773, 1774 in 2 vols. The 2nd ed. published 1776. This engraving from Vol. II P[late].102.
From the collection of and © Ann Andrews.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Quotation is from the second edition of the book, published in 1776.

[2] Bray, William (1783) "Sketch of a Tour Into Derbyshire and Yorkshire" (Second Edition) London, Printed for B. White at Horace's Head, in Fleet-Street. The first edition was published in 1778.