Methodist Free Chapel, Smedley's Hydro, Matlock, 1885
|Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century : Photographs,
Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
This photograph has been made from an 1885 glass negative of the
United Methodist Free Chapel which stood in the the grounds
of Smedley's Hydro, Matlock.
John Smedley erected this large chapel in 1870; it was one of
several churches he had built. Just before it was completed one
of the local papers commented that it "will form a prominent
feature in the surrounding scenery".
Following his illness in the late 1840s Smedley had become very
bitter regarding the Established church, but before that he had
equally as intolerant of the Dissenters. "So when John Smedley
found that the Established Church was indifferent to his well-meant
suggestions [amongst other things he re-wrote the Prayer book],
he turned to a church which was more accommodating. The Free
Churches, as they were called, had not unalterable canons of
tradition to hamper the free play of the spirit".
Buckley, writing in 1888, said that Smedley's "monuments
of practical Christianity"
could "still be seen at Holloway (near his works), Bonsall,
Higham, Matlock, Birchwood, Ashover and other places", erected
at a total cost of £5-10,000. Some,
but not all, of the buildings are still standing today.
The chapel is drawn on the 1876 Ordnance Survey Map and is also
shown on Smedley's Hydro Plan of 1875 (next
image). Both Kelly's 1876 Directory and the 1881 version
mention the "Free" Methodists on Matlock Bank.
Whilst it has not been possible to work out who other
ministers were, Rev. J. N. G. Faull,
who lived on Chesterfield Road,
was the minister in 1881. He gave "connective readings" at
a Service of Song (called "Elijah") at the church.
He had served as a Methodist minister since 1848 and had been
in the post at Smedley's since moving from Yorkshire in early
Sadly for Smedley, his church at the hydro proved to be a religious
white elephant as it did not last long as a place of worship.
Some years after Smedley's death the chapel was converted to
a dynamo house and its worshippers moved to premises on Snitterton
Road. Du Garde
Peach wrote that in 1888 "electric lighting came to Smedley's,
and it is interesting to note that the appreciation of scientific
inventions which characterised John Smedley still animated his
Benjamin Bryan stated that the engines and dynamos [for a newly
enlarged Smedley's in 1901] were "placed in the church erected
by Mr. Smedley for the performance of non-sectarian worship according
to his own ideas".
Arthur Mee described
it thus: "the embattled building with a tower and a tall
spire facing the church [All Saints'] was a chapel where John
Smedley used to preach; now it is an engine-house for running
It was eventually demolished (the web mistress has a photo of
ca. 1955 where at least the spire was still standing but it had
gone by the time of a later photograph, taken in 1964).
The United Methodists' final church was on Imperial Road. It
is interesting to note that the records for that church began in
Rev. Faull was the minister for the United Methodists at Smedley's.
View of the church from higher up Matlock Bank, 1904-6
1. Photograph in the collection of, and provided by Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only and is not to be used for commercial
gain. © William Holmes, who owns the original glass negative
and bought its copyright. This image has been enhanced as the negative
is 120 years old and a is little faded in places.
2. Enlargement of a postcard "Matlock
from Matlock Bank".
Published by Salisbury Ball, Sheffield, No.10600 B.C. Printed in
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.
links go to further information elsewhere on this web site):
 "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield
Herald", 25 June 1870.
 Peach, Lawrence du Garde (1954) "John
Smedley of Matlock and his Hydro", Bemrose Publicity
Co.: Derby & London. Peach is inconsistent with the year
electricity was introduced to Smedley's as in one place he says
it was installed in 1886 and twice he say the year was 1888.
 Buckley, J. (1888) "Recollections
of the late John Smedley of Matlock and The Water Cure",
John Heywood, Manchester and London. Reprinted, with an introduction
by David Barton (1973), by G. C. Brittain and Sons, Ripley and
re-published by the Arkwright Society, Tawney House Matlock.
 "Kelly's Directory of Derbyshire" (1876
and 1881), pub. London
 See Rev. Faull in the
1881 census transcripts. He had served as a Methodist
minister in Chorlton Upon Medlock (1871 census) and at various
churches in Yorkshire before moving to Matlock. By 1891 his wife
had died, he had retired and had moved ton Weston Super Mare
to live with his sister. He died at Weston Super Mare on 15 Dec
 "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield
Herald", 14 May 1881. Report of the Service of Song.
 "Derby Daily Telegraph",
17 May 1887 and the "Derbyshire Courier" 21
May 1887 both reported that the United Methodists had moved to
the former Wesleyan Chapel on Snitterton road the previous year.
 Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History
of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by
Bemrose & Sons, Limited
 Mee, Arthur (ed.) (1937) "Derbyshire:
The Peak Country", The King's England Series, Hodder
and Stoughton Limited, London.
 With thanks to Rosemary Lockie for
sharing some of her own research. See GUKUTILS:
Places of Worship on Google Map