John Smedley wrote:
In 1853 I purchased a small house to accommodate six or eight patients.
I put a little shed over front door and next the verandah, as
"I took a few men, upon whom to try the
Hydropathic remedies, which proved successful; and many more making
application, I made a place for the free board, lodging and baths
to a certain number of males and females : and hundreds since
have found restoration to health and body, and peace of mind, through
the renewal of the Spirit .. we made our house a free hospital,
until we found we could not afford room enough. I then bought a
small house at Matlock Bank for six patients, board, lodgings
and treatments at 3s. per day. Soon again we had to refuse applicants".
From Preface to a former edition of "Practical
Smedley was vague about the detail but he appears to have bought
the house where Ralph Davis was already working as a hydropathist
from Thomas Bunting.
Davis continued working for him for a time after
Smedley bought him out, but he moved on and opening
Southview Cottage on Matlock Bank.
By 1854 Mr. and Mrs. Stevens were the hydro's managers.
One beneficiary of the free treatment provided at Lea
was a man called Peter Gregory.
"CASE OF PARALYSIS. - Peter Gregory, of Riber, a carpenter
aged about sixty, stout, was seized in bed, about 4a.m.,
with insensibility and paralysis ; lost power of limbs and
speech. I had him removed to my Free Hospital at once, and
put him in pack 47, Bath List, and
in one hour he regained the use of his limbs and speech.
He had then body bandage put on, a bread poultice over stomach,
and flannel wrapper over, and 137, and
then put to bed again. He was so far recovered that"
he wanted to walk home on the mountain top that evening,
but I kept him in the hospital for four days, gave him 48,
50, 51, 59, 13, 10, and
he got to work on Monday following. I showed him to Lord
Ossington, then Speaker of the House of Commons,
who paid me a visit, and expressed his admiration of out
Institution and treatment. I have had many cases restored
to the use of their limbs by our treatment the last twenty
years, who would have dragged out a miserable existence but
for our original inventions.
Contrast the above case with any under doctors' hands, who
never fully recover, and seldom get out of their hands without
losing all chance of nature's powers of restoration.
Peter Gregory can be found in the
He was buried at St. Giles on 22 Feb 1872,
Smedley was to write that "much may be done to
preserve health and save life, by strict abstinence from stimulants,
attending to clothing, as laid down in this work ("Practical
Hydropathy"), and to simple diet. Stimulants, instead
of enabling persons better to endure cold and damp, have directly
the contrary effect; they lower the power of the body to resist
cold ..." He added that "houses
built on the plan of our establishment, with outer glazed saloon,
gives the inmates space for exercise and good air in any weather."
(This is the case of a wealthy man,
supposed by the various doctors he had consulted to have
heart disease, of which he might die at any hour. He remains
now - three years ago - perfectly well).
"I have great reason to be most grateful I visited your establishment.
No day passes without some of your modes of treatment, which
I take in my own house. I have not had, though much exposed,
what is called a cold since I was at Matlock, which I attribute
to the mild water treatment I acquired with you. My wife joins
me in kind regards to you and Mrs. Smedley". (Undated)
In 1863 the Derby Mercury reported: "The following
is a list we have procured from the steward of Mr. Smedley's Hydropathic
Establishment, Matlock Bank, consumed in four weeks last month:
- 5,4711lbs of beef, mutton, lamb and veal ; 74 rabbits, 45 fowls,
143lbs of fish, 5,053lbs of bread, 268 rolls, 392lbs of various
bread, 7,300 pints of milk, 550 puddings, large quantity of stewed
fruit, 3,360 eggs".
Diet was important to Smedley and in Practical
recommended several milk based puddings and jellies, beefsteaks
or cutlets -
"the only way to have them is tender" - and stewed fruits.
He found ginger, when "put through a sausage machine, softens
and mellows it. Very good instead of butter, for some invalids".
The stewed fruit consumed in 1863 would undoubtedly have included
apples and pears ("very wholesome and valuable article of
diet"), figs, dried
apricots and peaches and French plums and Smedley provided helpful
hints on how to cook them. Perhaps he had a butterfly mind or wanted
to note down everything that he thought of in a rather a rush as
amidst his food suggestions he, rather curiously, inserted a recipe
for pomade for the hair!
View from the Matlock Hydropathic Establishment.
G. Bailey, Sc : C. Smedley, Del.
Look carefully and you can see a train going over the railway bridge.
From the same book:
You may also like to view
in Hall's "Days in Derbyshire" (1863)
for Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment, Bemrose's Guide, 1869
Was Red Tape at Smedley's Hydro Then"
Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment Enumeration Book in the 1891
in the 1901 census
links are to transcripts and information elsewhere on this web site):
 Smedley, John "Smedley's
Practical Hydropathy, 15th ed.", James Blackwood & Co.,
Paternoster Row, London.
 Thomas Bunting is shown owning
two adjacent properties on the Smedley's site in the 1848 Tithe:
no.713 (House, Coal-house, Privy, Court and Garden) and No.714
(House, Outbuildings, Court, Yard, and Gardens). Thomas Bunting
was a lead miner, living on Matlock Green in the
1851 census. In 1851 George Ludlam was occupying one property
and Robert Bunting the other (see census
 There is more about Ralph Davis
 The treatments from the Bath List
include a fomenting pack with pads applied to legs (47), a
hot mustard leg bath that included rubbing the legs upwards
afterwards (137), a liver pack (48), a stomach pack (50), a
6-8 minutes steam bath (51), a hot soaping (13) and a sponge
 Lord Ossington visited John Smedley
in 1868. See: Matlock,
Riber & Starkholmes
 "The Derby Mercury",
Wednesday, September 16, 1863.