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Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment, Matlock Bank
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Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment, Matlock Bank
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Mrs. Smedley's Ladies Manual

Caroline Smedley

Starting Out

Extending the Hydro

United Methodist Free Chapel, Smedley's Hydro


An engraving by C. Bailey, one of several in the "Ladies Manual", which dates from after 1871. The building on the right was the original hydro building of 1851, bought by John Smedley in 1853.

Black's Guide of 1864 recorded that: "At Matlock Bank, a rapidly increasing locality, is Mr. Smedley's hydropathic establishment, one of the largest and best conducted establishments of its kind in the kingdom. It is capable of accommodating some hundreds of patients, and no greater proof of its excellence can be adduced than to say it is always being enlarged[1]". A Leicestershire newspaper was to comment in 1874 that Smedleys rather resembled a barracks, though othing was said about the treatments the patients were receiving[2].

In 1875 it was announced that "THIS ESTABLISHMENT ia passing into the hands of a Company, and will be carried on in all essentials as it has been in the past ... many improvements have been and are in the course of being carried out, and will include a commodious TURKISH BATH and Electric Bells throughout the whole building"[3]. The Chairman of the Hydropathic Company noted at the annual meeting in 1877 that the Turkish Bath had been in use for nine months and the visitors approved if it "on account of its unique ventilation arrangements and capacious apartments"[4].

As the hydro expanded from its modest beginnings more and more small parcels of land had been bought from the its neighbours. The engraving shows us the hydro before any of the major works that were undertaken from the 1880s until 1894 to transform the hydro into the much more recognisable building that exists today.

Read the next stage in the hydro's history, Smedley's Hydropathic Institution, 1890s

The above 19th century engraving 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 ... "
This book is in the collection of, the information is provided by and images scanned and repaired by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "Black's Tourist Guide to Derbyshire" (1864) pub. Adam and Charles Black Edinburgh
[2] "Leicester Chronicle", 1 August 1874.
[3] "Derbyshire Times", 28 July 1875.
[4] "Derbyshire Courier", 15 September 1877.