A postcard taken for the hydro, showing the Grand Dining Room before
the First World War. It was here that Smedley's would have served
its Christmas Banquets over the years. It is difficult to know
when these began but in 1888 there was a Banquet for 200 on Christmas
Day, following a Ball on the previous evening.
A large number of staff were involved in the meal's preparation.
For example, in his customary speech at the end of the 1899 Banquet
Mr. Challand, the hydro's manager, stated that almost 100 people
had been involved that year.
The number of people attending the banquets increased with each
were covers for 311 at the Christmas night (end of the century)
banquet in 1900 and
133 in 1901. Their
meat was home fed; Mr.
Challand said the Hydropathic Company had bought 160 acres in
1900 and presented their own produce.
Boar's heads were prepared for these banquets. Benjamin Bryan mentioned
one on display in 1901 and
a local paper reported that "A handsome boar's head, with
beautiful piping, stood on an adjoining sideboard, where, too,
was shown in tasteful array dressed ham, tongues, and game pie".
The tables would seat 10 and the diners sat on bentwood dining
chairs. They were laid with cutlery, napkins, condiments and sauce
bottles, tumblers and jugs of water, with a potted plant for decoration.
A line of serving spoons can be seen neatly down the middle of
each table. At this time neither wine glasses nor wine would have
been provided. As Henry Challand proudly commented in 1901, "Smedley's
had not tarnished the name of a hydropathic establishment by introducing
However, close examination of the menu below shows that alcohol would
almost certainly have been used in some of the sweets.
Close of the century Christmas
Day Banquet menu.
25 December 1900.
Clear Turtle; Bisque a la Normande.
Boiled Turbot; Fried Fillets of Sole.
Sweetbreads aux Epinards; Aspic de Foie Gras; Stewed
Kidneys and Mushrooms.
Sirloin of beef, saddle of mutton; haunch of venison;
roast goose; boiled turkey;
roast chicken; ham; tongue.
Plum pudding; Saxony pudding; mince pies; Tipsy cake;
Gelec d'Or Liqueur;
Bavaroise a' i'Imperatice; Meringue en Caramel; Glace
a la Rothschild.
Pines; grapes, bananas, oranges, etc
This dining hall was part of the second phase of the redevelopment
undertaken by the Hydropathic Company in the 1880s and early 1890s
and had opened on Christmas Day 1885. The area measured 90 feet
by 45 feet. Its roof rested on 28 Corinthian styled pillars, the
walls were decorated and stencilled and the wood was American walnut.
The room was lit by the embossed plate glass skylight and the ceiling
above the columns was made of fibrous plaster. The hall was heated
by hot water pipes laid beneath three gratings hidden underneath
three long tables. The dining hall's floor was covered with kamptulican,
the forerunner of linoleum. An "apartment" was
at one end, where 1,000 plates could be warmed; the room's other
fittings included the provision of vegetable warmers and heaters
so that the meat could be kept warm until it was carved. A
la Russe service was provided through inter-connecting
windows between the apartment and the dining hall. Mr. Askew
of Matlock Bridge was contracted for the stonework, Mr. W. Statham
of Matlock Green for the woodwork and the architect was Mr. George
E Statham of Nottingham and Matlock. It was decorated by Mr. Kenworthy
A new addition to the dining room in 1899 was a minstrel
gallery for the orchestra, which "played appropriate airs
during the banquet. The orchestra was occupied by Mr J. H. Barnes'
well known Matlock band".
Barnes was a local man and
he and his band played both at many of Smedley's events and at
other local hydropathic establishment parties.
Whilst we know that the
Winter Garden had both electric and gas lighting when it
was built, the gas lights in the dining room seem to have disappeared
by the time this picture was taken and the pretty Art Nouveau
lamp shades have light bulbs in them. Nevertheless, it looks
as if Smedley's had fed the wires down the existing gas pipes,
something that wasn't uncommon.
View Smedley's Christmas Banquet Menus by clicking on the images
links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web
 "Derbyshire Times", 29 December 1888.
 "Derbyshire Times", 27 December 1899.
 "Derbyshire Times", 26 December 1900.
 Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History
of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons,
"Derbyshire Times", 27 December
1902. The boar's head would have been decorated in a similar fashion
to the one at Chatsworth Hydro. See: Display
for a pre1914-18 war banquet
 "Derbyshire Times", 2
 John Herbert Barnes lived in Matlock Bath:
see his entries in the 1871 census | the
1891 census | the 1901 census.