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Riber Castle, Four Mid-Nineteenth Century Engravings
Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century : Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
Riber Castle, North Front

1. Riber Castle, North Front.
This image is from "Mrs. Smedley's Ladies Manual".

When John Smedley first lived at Riber it was for the benefit of his health (see Riber Hall engraving). He then decided to build his own property and designed the Castle, beginning with the Lodge, his first residence. He had bought land from George Allen of Riber Hall[1] and later purchased more land from others.

Each corner tower of the main building is 90 feet high. It is typical of the man that he placed this remarkably self indulgent structure in such an exposed position on the brow of the hill and visible for many miles around.

The first two images below are illustrations from the 15th edition of "Smedley's Practical Hydropathy".

Riber Castle

2. Riber Castle.
"800 feet above sea level, 600 feet above the River Derwent at the foot of the hill".

The crenellations and turrets are reminiscent of a medieval fortress, though the walls were not as thick and windows replaced the slits (for archers to shoot arrows through) of medieval times. Smedley could almost have been building for a monarch.


3. Riber Entrance Lodge.

The final image is taken from the 5th edition of "Smedley's Practical Hydropathy", published in 1863.

4. "Riber Entrance Lodge.
The principal house intended to be erected here as an addition to the Hydropathic Establishment not yet built. This Lodge is about 620 feet above the river Derwent, and was built and occupied in four months and a half, February to 1st July, 1863".
The quotation and engraving were also published in the 10th edition (1869) and the 15th edition of Practical Hydropathy.

The Riber Entrance Lodge is on the Tansley side of the castle, overlooking the quarry area. Part of it is still standing (2016) and can be seen from the footpath; the present developers, who are also restoring the castle, are trying to bringing it back to how it looked in the illustration. After the Smedley's had moved to the Castle this lodge became the coach house and coachman's abode, amongst other things. In the 1881 census it would have been the home of George Merchant. Ten years later, in the 1891 census, Henry Taylor was there and was still in residence in 1901.

There is another lodge, at the cross roads of Riber Road / Carr Lane, where Smedley said the second preface to his book was written in January 1863 (Practical Hydropathy, 1869, p.13). It is shown on the right of the complex in image 2 above.

Other buildings in the Matlocks with decorative crenellations, mostly pre-Victorian structures.

County and Station, Dale Road,
Matlock Bath

Upper Tower, Matlock Bath

The (Lower) Tower, Matlock Bath

Willersley Castle

Smedley's Hydro
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Riber Castle

Riber Hill and Castle

Pathways to Riber Castle,
passing Riber House Farm

Mrs. Smedley's Ladies Manual

Caroline Smedley

Smedley's Practical Hydropathy

John Smedley

The top of this series of 19th century engravings has been taken from:
Smedley, Mrs. (1878/9) "Ladies' Manual of Practical Hydropathy (Not the Cold Water System), 16th ed.", James Blackwood & Co., Lovell's Court, Paternoster Row, London.
By the time this edition was published Mr. John Smedley, Mrs. Smedley's husband, had been dead for some years and the business had been taken over by Smedley's Hydropathic Company (Limited)
Caroline Anne Smedley wrote in her preface:
"After reading many works on hydropathy in conjunction with my husband, I consider that they are written too scientifically for Ladies who have not studied Medical and Anatomical Works, and who are therefore ignorant of the many terms made use of only in such works, and which are not at all necessary to be known by the generalities of our sex in the ordinary duties of life. This little Manual will therefore be entirely free from such terms ... "

Images two and three of the mid 19th century engravings have been taken from:
Smedley, John "Smedley's Practical Hydropathy, 15th ed.", James Blackwood & Co., Paternoster Row, London, p.136. By the time this edition was published Mr. Smedley had died and the business had been taken over by Smedley's Hydropathic Company (Limited)

Image 4 is from:
Smedley, John (1863) "Smedley's Practical Hydropathy, 6th ed.", Job Caudwell, 335 Starnd, London and three other publishers. It replaces an earlier version of the image.

All three books are in the collection of, the information is provided by and images scanned by and ©Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured hyperlinks for onsite transcripts):

[1] Conveyance by George Allen of Riber to John Smedley of closes in Riber, 4 Oct 1861 (records of Matlock U.D.C., Derbyshire Record Office).