The Romantic Rocks or Dungeon Tors were a popular Matlock Bath
attraction in the nineteenth century, but fell out of favour
in the twentieth. The extract
below, written by L. Jewitt, was published in "Nooks
and Corners of Derbyshire" and
is full of the melodrama that appealed to the Victorians.
Jewitt discussed the Heights of Abraham and Masson hillside
before going on to say:
"On the side of this steep [hill?] are the extensive
caverns which attract so much interest, and on the same slope
is one of our favourite little nooks, the Romantic Rocks,
are termed. This singular assemblage of rocks, although
comparatively small, is, perhaps, from that very fact, and
its utter exclusion from the outer world, one of the most
lovely spots which even Matlock can boast; it is formed of
masses of gigantic rock, boldly jutting out from the side
of the hill, and by a number of obelisk-shaped stones thrown
wildly about in various directions, and beautifully covered
with the richest coloured lichens and mosses. The whole assemblage
is embosomed in the surrounding foliage of the trees, which
grow from out the interstices of the rock, and in a profusion
of shrubs and wild plants, which cast a deep gloom and shadow
over the spot; while the constant dripping of the water as
it percolates through the mountain gives a coldness and sepulchral
feeling to the place, which is still more heightened by the
long waving leaves of the fern and hart's-tongue, which grow
in great luxuriance and profusion. We could visit this little
spot at all hours, and sit and listen to the monotonous dripping
of the water, and watch the waving of the long dark leaves
of the unearthly-looking hart's-tongue, as drop by drop the
moisture fell upon them from above, and see it pass from
leaf to leaf, until, with a sullen plash, it fell upon the
rock beneath; and we could peer into the darkness of the
recess until our minds were lulled and soothed with the contemplation,
and our very soul estranged from earthly objects."
The rocks could be reached by a path from the Palais
Royal (Old Pavilion). They were bought from Walter Mather
Evans' estate in 1882 and were absorbed into the grounds
of the Matlock Bath Pavilion and Gardens Company.
Almost immediately after the Royal Assent was given to the
Matlock Bath Improvement Act in 1905 the Royal Hotel purchased
the Pavilion and Gardens Company from its then owners; the
Tors were still part of that company and presumably were
no longer available to the general public.
By 1912 they were referred to in the past tense.
The Romantic Rocks and/or the Dungeon Tors are mentioned
in the following on site nineteenth century guides:
Excursions From Derby to Matlock Bath" by Henry Moore,
1818. Includes another engraving.
Hall's "Days in Derbyshire",
1863 Chapter 4 briefly
mentions the Dungeon Tors.
Hand Book to Matlock Bath & Neighbourhood",
1866. Scroll down to Walks and Places Worth Seeing.
Croston's "On Foot Through the
1868 - Chapter
"Bemroses' Guide to Matlock",
1869 - Caverns, Rocks,
Museums, Church (p.13) | Places
of Interest in and around Matlock Bath (scroll down the
"All About Derbyshire" by
Edward Bradbury, 1884, Chapter
coloured links go to on-site transcripts or information:
 The quotation also appeared
in "Black's Tourist Guide to Derbyshire" (1864),
4th edition, edited by Llewellyn Jewitt, pub. Adam and Charles
 "The Derby Mercury",
Wednesday, July 19, 1882. New Pavilion and Gardens at Matlock
 The Royal Assent was given to
the Bill and the Matlock Bath Improvement Act became law
on 4 August, 1905. There is more information about the Royal
Hotel's purchase on Matlock
Bath: The Old Pavilion - the Palais Royal.
 "Derby Daily Telegraph",
26 January 1912. "... with that group of rocks, the Dungeon
Tors, were amongst the chief attractions of Matlock Bath".