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Matlock: Smedley's Hydro Drawing Room, 1906
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Smedley's Hydro, Public Drawing Room

Smedley's brochure, about 1925.

Smedley's brochure, 1939

Grand dining room

Smoking room

Past Matlock & Matlock Bath photographers

The photograph of the drawing room at Smedley's, above, was taken for the hydro. The room had been altered and refurbished since the earlier engraving was published in "Practical Hydropathy"[1], although the secluded curtained alcoves with upholstered settles around the edges remained. They are a striking feature of the room and must have been very cosy to sit in. Another photograph of this room, but without the curtains in the alcoves, was published in the hydro's booklet dating from around 1925, "Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment Matlock. Established 1853"[2].

Two very large portraits of the hydro's founder, John Smedley, and his wife Caroline were hung on the end wall and dominated the room; these were later reduced in size and are now at Lea Mills. Considering the hydro was usually very busy, it is a little surprising to see an Edwardian drawing room with nobody in it!

Enlargement of the top image, showing the portraits.
Henry Steer thought that "Mr. Smedley's full-length portrait shows him to have been
a sharp, commanding, strong-willed, and almost austere master. He was straight
as a dart, quick in his move ments, determined in expression, and extremely particular
about the precise observance of his rules. He was a very early riser,
and could do as much work as two ordinary men"[3].

Below is a second photograph, showing the other end of the drawing room. It was probably taken slightly earlier, after the rebuilding and refurbishment of 1894. We can see the stage at the far end of the room.

Drawing room, photogrpahed by Frederick Barber

After commenting on John Smedley's portrait Mr. Steer of Derby, who was a watchmaker and later a writer on Christian subjects, provided an excellent description of this room in his 1897 history of the Smedleys:

"To give a description of the new drawing-room is a task of no ordinary character. It is superb and perfect The opinion obtains that the room is second to none in any semi-private place in the country. At one end is a permanent stage, 20 feet deep and 20 feet wide, with ante-rooms. It is flanked by Corinthian columns and pilasters. The stage is as large as those in most of the leading theatres. All the architectural work is of free classic style, from the plans of Mr. Statham. This magnificent room is elaborately decorated, and furnished in artistic taste. There are six recesses on one side. These are arranged to give a sight of the great hills to the west and south. The seats are upholstered in steel-blue frieze velvet, tastefully draped with velvet curtains. The woodwork is richly carved, and the seats are fixed for a view of almost the entire room. In one of these recesses is a beautifully-carved mantelpiece of exquisite design. Opposite the recesses are six spacious windows, with fanlights above. The windows are of costly stained glass, the centre panels of which are figures representing the Muses. One of the features of this elegant apartment is the embroidered blinds, which give an artistic effect and a splendour to the rest of the room. The window curtains are also of the richest velvet. The woodwork is chastely decorated. The doors, the recesses, and the windows are done in solid walnut, all finely carved. The dado is of Japanese paper, whilst the middle part is an ordinary rich blue paper, with a handsome fringe running round the top. The floor is covered with a carpet which has been specially manufactured for Messrs. Foster and Cooper in Bohemia. It is about one ton in weight, and is made entirely by hand by skilled people, and can scarcely be said to wear out. The splendid thickness and softness of the pile makes it like walking upon moss. It is luxurious and costly, and fits exactly in every part, like one immense piece, though, on account of the great weight, it was necessary to have several sections. The settees, ottomans, and chairs have been specially designed and constructed so as to take apart and form in line for entertainments. The colours are various, principally the electric blue and old gold. There are centre tables and card tables, all made en suite. The roof is most delicately and prettily decorated with cream and gold, interspersed with terra-cotta and light blue. To say the room is immensely rich does not convey an idea of the exceeding beauty contained within the four walls. Messrs. Foster and Cooper have more than pleased the directors and the architect with their workmanship. Along with the furnishing of twenty bedrooms, Mr. C. E. Hughes took the contract on their behalf for the whole of this important work"[3].

View Smedley's Christmas and New Year Menus & Programmes:

1926 & 1927
1928 & 1929
1930, 1931, 1932, 1934
1946, 1947, 1948 & 1949

1 and 2. "Matlock. Smedley's Hydro (Drawing Room)". Published by Photochrom Co. Ltd., London. Posted 30 May 1906 at Matlock Bridge.
The "auntie" who wrote the card's message to her niece clearly enjoyed her stay at Smedley's: "I wish you could have been with me as we had a very nice entertainment. A few good songs well sung to begin with and some of the best tableaus I have seen. The dresses and scenery were lovely". A satisfied customer!
3. "Drawing Room, Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment, Matlock Bridge", photographed by Frederick Barber and published as a carte de visite about 1894-1900 (see Photographers)
Both images in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Page researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured hyperlinks are to information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] Mid 19th century images from John Smedley's "Practical Hydropathy" include:
Matlock: Smedley's Hydro, Public Drawing Room
Matlock: Smedley's Hydro, Starting Out

[2] Images of the book are on this web site. Go to Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment Matlock, Brochure, about 1925 and the 1939 version.

[3] Steer, Henry (1897) "The Smedleys of Matlock Bank", Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, London. The Mr. Statham he mentioned was Mr. G. E. Statham, architect, of Nottingham and Matlock. See Biographies