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Florence Nightingale and Lea Hurst, Near Matlock
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Lea Hurst, about 1855
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Biography of

Sales of Lea Hurst
and its estate

Anna Neagle starring in the film "The Lady with the Lamp".

"As one of the lovely spots of the county of Derby, Lea Hurst stands naturally high, but as the home of Florence Nightingale, it possesses an historical interest that will always remain[1]."

Lea Hurst was one of the homes belonging to Florence Nightingale's father and the family moved into the property when Florence was about five years old. Her father was William Edward Shore; he was the great nephew of Peter Nightingale and he added Nightingale to his surname following the death of his great uncle.

William Adam, writing when Florence Nightingale was a young woman, mentioned the approach to the estate. "Passing over the small bridge [at Lea], we take the road leading up to a long and steep hill to the village of Holloway"[2]. "Lea Hurst, the seat of William Nightingale Esq., is embosomed amongst the woods, to the right" (footnote[2]).

Llewellynn Jewitt described the house, its surroundings and its history in 1855. The house was built on rising ground "in the midst of one of the most charming and extensive of the Derbyshire valleys". ... "The park and grounds extend along the conjoined hamlets of Lea Mills and Holloway[3]." His engraving, above, is from a similar date.

"The hamlet of Lea or Leyghe, which is usually joined with Dethick and Holloway", was at the time Jewitt was writing partly in Ashover, partly in Wingfield and also partly in Crich, and is of considerable antiquity. In the reign of King John the manor belonged to Roger de Alveley, one of the heiresses brought a portion of it by marriage to the Ferrers, and from then in passed successively to the Dethicks and Babingtons ; the other portion passed from the De la Leas, who had acquired it by marriage, to the Freschevilles, of whom in the fourteenth century it was purchased by the Rollestones : from them it descended by marriage and purchase through to the Pershalls, Spatemans and others, to the family of Nightingale, in which it is still vested[3]." ...

"Lea Hurst Hall, erected in the Elizabethan style, is most enchantingly situated on an expansive sloping lawn on the outer edge of an extensive park, and is surrounded and overhung with luxuriant trees. It is built in the form of a cross, with gables at its extremities and on its sides, surmounted with hip-knobs, with ball terminations ; the windows, which open beneath the many gables, are square headed with dripstones and stone mullions, and the general contour of the building is much heightened by the strongly built clustered chimney stalks which rise from the roof, out into the grounds, and are terminated with balustrades and battlements. The hall, with its out offices, gardens, and shrubberies, etc., is enclosed from the general park by a low fence, and is approached by a gateway, whose massive posts are terminated by globes of stone[3]."

Almost a hundred years after Jewitt had been writing the art and architecture historian Nikolaus Pevsner described Leahurst as a "C17 gabled house with low mullioned windows, much enlarged in 1825"[4]. Describing the house as a place of national interest because of its association with Florence Nightingale, the 1920's Ward Lock Guides add that "it is one of the most beautiful places in the district. The park and grounds form a prominent feature in the landscape from any of the surrounding hills. The Hall, Elizabethan in style, is pleasantly situated on a sloping lawn, surrounded by trees[5]."

Florence Nightingale's Balcony, Lea Hurst, near Matlock
Florence Nightingale's Balcony, Lea Hurst, near Matlock. About 1905-6.
Above the single storey large bay window is a balustraded parapet.

Reminiscing very shortly after Florence Nightingale's death, one Derbyshire paper reported that "a singular old-world charm surrounds Lea Hurst, where Miss Nightingale spent the summer months in each year. She was especially interested in the orphans in the surrounding villages. Once a year a sports day for Holloway's school children was held in the park and she presented the prizes from the balcony[6]"

"Her balcony was a great joy to her, commanding a view of the garden with its stone terraces massed with flowers, and of a meadow beyond, losing itself among the trees running down to the river. Often the sound of the Derwent was in her ears, and she greatly recalled it one night at Scutari. There was a great storm, and suddenly Florence Nightingale said: " How I like to hear that ceaseless roar; it puts me in mind of the Derwent. How often I have listened to it from the nursery window!" If ever she lived to see England again, she wrote from the Crimea, the western breezes of her hilltop home would be her first longing"[7].

Lea Hurst, near Matlock
A postcard from an oil painting by Henry Hadfield Cubley,
who lived in Matlock Bath for about twenty years[8]

On the back of Cubley's card, shown above, is printed the following:
"On a hill opposite the village of Holloway stands Lea Hurst, an Elizabethan House, beautifully situated on the crest of the ridge. This was at one time a residence of the famous and beloved nurse of the Crimean wards - Miss Florence Nightingale. Continuing along the hillside beyond it, one enjoys a fine view across the Derwent valley."

Florence Nightingale's sister Parthenope (Lady Verney) produced a delightful drawing of Lea Hurst which is now hung in the room known as the Museum on the first floor at Claydon House. The drawing's caption reads "Parthenope's drawing of Lea Hurst, Derbyshire. Home of Florence Nightingale"[9]. When she executed her drawing she must have sat in a very similar position to that later chosen by Hadfield Cubley, although the two trees on either side of the gateway had grown up in the intervening years.

Lea Hurst Park
Lea Hurst Park, Holloway, Nr. Matlock, 1930s.
This is the main entrance into Lea Hurst on Yew Tree Hill, the approach described
by William Adam, above. The gate posts were surmounted by large ball finials, though
one is unfortunately missing today. Another entrance is beside the Village Hall.

The house was let to Sir Joseph Lee of Manchester in 1885[10] but he and his wife departed in 1894 for St. Leonards-on-Sea, as a warmer climate was necessary for Sir Joseph's delicate health[11]. Mrs. Louisa Eleanor Shore Nightingale, whose husband William was a cousin of Florence, then moved to the house. In 1901 her daughter was living with her and in 1911 there were two grandchildren with her. She died at Lea Hurst, aged 90 and had lived in five reigns, as she had been born when King George IV was on the throne[12].

Lea Hurst
1920s photograph.

There were a number of property sales of parts of the Lea Hurst Estates in the inter war years.
See: Sales of Lea Hurst

In 1921 the family presented Derby Art Gallery with a bronze bust of Miss Nightingale, a replica of one in marble executed in 1862[13]. The carriage she had used in the Crimea was exhibited at the Chesterfield Pageant in 1927. It had been presented to the Chesterfield Corporation by Mr. Shore-Nightingale and was stored at Tapton House, which it was hoped would ultimately be Chesterfield's Public Museum. Close examination revealed it was of Russian manufacture and the name of the wheelwright could still be detected[14]

Lea Hurst
In the grass below the wall are the barely discernible words "The Home of Florence N".
Also 1920s.

Mr. Shore Nightingale, the son of Louisa and William Shore Nightingale and a retired civil servant, held annual garden parties to raise money for various Nightingale related causes. He was well known for the work he did to perpetuate Florence's name. In 1932 he had given land to build the Florence Nightingale Memorial Hall in Holloway[17], having raised money for the proposed building with a garden party in 1930. In 1934 the proceeds from the garden opening were to benefit the hall, which had now been built. He was supporting the County Nursing Association in 1935 and in 1937 proceeds were to go to the Florence Nightingale Memorial Home in London. That year beautiful weather attracted many visitors to the house and gardens and they were open for a second day[15].

At Christmas time Mr. Shore Nightingale would asked his steward, Mr. C. Limb, to gather holly from the estate and distribute it amongst the residents of Dethick. Lea and Holloway[16].

Lea Hurst Park
Facing the garden is another large two storey bay, although it is slightly smaller than
the "balcony" bay; the parapet is crenellated. The terrace has been slightly
altered since the Sneath image above as wider steps down to the garden have been
constructed and the original steps to the side have been removed. The window
has been replaced by a door, seen here wide open.

In September 1940 Louis Hilary Shore Nightingale, the last close relative of Florence Nightingale using the surname, died here at the age of 74. He had been ill for three and half months. In his Will he left papers and relics of Florence to the trustees of St. Thomas's Hospital to add to their collection[18]. Then in 1946 Mrs. Rosalind Nash, his sister, presented Derby Library with more family papers; these were placed among the Derbyshire Collection in the Reference Department there. The fourteen Deeds included the 1803 Will of Peter Nightingale and the marriage settlement of his sister Ann to George Evans (1758)[19].

Lea Hurst
There was an inner gateway to the house to separate it from the park. A sign on it reads
"Private". The car close to the front door was probably a Morris 10.

During the war it was an evacuation centre for people bombed out in London[20]. Lea Hurst was sold in May 1946, bringing to an end its long ownership by the Nightingale family. It was set to be auctioned by Marchant Brooks, but in the event it was sold the day before the auction took place[21].

More on site information about the Nightingale family and Florence Nightingale
Matlock Biographies: see NIGHTINGALE
Coat of Arms: Description of NIGHTINGALE arms
Pedigree of Nightingale
Dethick, Lea and Holloway (Kelly's 1891 Directory)
Read Longfellow's poem about Florence Nightingale on Matlock & Matlock Bath: Inspiration of Poets.
Photo of Lea Hurst amongst scanned images from "Souvenir of Matlock Bath" can be seen onsite
Hall's "Days in Derbyshire", mentions Lea Hurst and Holloway. It also includes a steel engraving of Lea Hurst (similar to Jewitt's engraving above, but not the same) and a wood engraving of the Nightingale "Jewel" she was presented with after the Crimean War.

1. Engraving of Lea Hurst by Llewellynn Jewitt, about 1857[3].
2. "Florence Nightingale's Balcony, Lea Hurst, near Matlock" One of the Artistic Series, A.P. Co., 9 Bury Court, St. Mary Axe, London, E.C. No.2539. Chromotyped in Saxony. Exact date difficult as the card is not postmarked but first postal date known for their cards is now 1905 (see both Via Gellia, Tufa Cottage on this website and list of postcard publishers elsewhere on the internet which supplies the date of 1909).
3. "Lea Hurst, Derbyshire" published by Raphael Tuck & Sons "Oilette" [Regd.] Postcard 1680 Art Publishers to their Majesties the King and Queen "Picturesque Derbyshire". Printed in England.
4. "Lea Hurst Park, Holloway, Nr. Matlock". Published by Lilywhite of Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, No. HWY 17. Guaranteed Real Photograph and British Manufacture Not posted.
5. "Lea Hurst, The Home of Florence Nightingale". Published by E. Blount, Photo, Crich No.412, Unused. This was published post WW1, possibly in the 1920s.
6. "Lea Hurst. (The Home of Florence Nightingale) ". Published by S. Sneath, Paradise St., Sheffield No.2329. The Peak Series. Copyright. Real Photograph. Unused.
7. "Lea Hurst, Holloway ", published by A. W. Bourne, 32, Babingley Drive, Leicester. This is a real Photograph. Printed in Great Britain. Unused.
8. "Lea Hurst, Holloway, Nr. Matlock". Lea Hurst, Home of Florence Nightingale, Holloway, Derbys A. W. Bourne, 32, Babingley Drive, Leicester No.10. This is a real Photograph. Printed in Great Britain. Unused.
Postcards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.
This page was originally called "Florence Nightingale's Balcony, Lea-Hurst, Nr. Matlock" but with the addition of considerably more material it was re-named in March 2023.

References (coloured links are to transcripts and information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] "Black's Tourist Guide to Derbyshire" (1864), 4th edition, edited by Llewellyn Jewitt, pub. Adam and Charles Black Edinburgh.

[2] Adam, William (1840) "The Gem of the Peak", London; Longman & Co., Paternoster Row, MDCCCXL, p.170

[3] Jewitt, Llewellynn (1855) "A Stroll to Lea Hurst, Derbyshire, the home of Florence Nightingale".

[4] Pevsner, Nikolaus (1953), "The Buildings of England, Derbyshire", Penguin Books, p.129

[5] Ward Lock & Co's "Matlock, Dovedale, Bakewell and South Derbyshire", Illustrated Guide Books of England and Wales (1932-3), p.59

[6] "Derbyshire Courier", 20 August 1910.

[7] Mee, Arthur (ed.) (1937) "Derbyshire: The Peak Country", The King's England Series, Hodder and Stoughton Limited, London, p.156.

[8] There is a biography of Henry Hadfield Cubley on this site

[9] Parthenope's drawing of Lea Hurst is on display at Claydon House, Buckinghamshire. With grateful thanks to the archivist, Sue Baxter for providing the drawing's title.

[10] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 15 May 1885.

[11] "ibid.", 12 October 1894. He had formerly been the deputy chairman of the Manchester Ship Canal. He passed away a short while later.

[12] "ibid.", 15 July 1922. William Shore Nightingale, Louisa's husband, had died in 1894.

[13] "Ripley and Heanor News and Ilkeston Division Free Press", 22 July 1921

[14] "Derbyshire Times", 8 October 1927. Notes by the Way.

[15] The garden parties were mentioned in "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 19 September 1930, "Derbyshire Times", 25 August 1934 (Lea Hurst, Holloway, Matlock), "Derby Daily Telegraph", 25 May 1935 and "Derby Daily Telegraph", 13 August 1937 (Lea Hurst Open to Public).

[16] "Derbyshire Times", 17 December 1932.

[17] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 28 September 1940. Mr. Nightingale was buried in Holloway churchyard.

[18] "Derbyshire Times", 13 December 1940.

[19] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 23 January 1946. Nightingale Deeds Given to Derby.

[20] "The Times", 2 July, 1951.

[21] "ibid.", 22 May 1946.