The Wishing Stone is a large natural gritstone rock, about 14 feet
in diameter, and some believed that to get a wish granted you has
to run round the outer ring of the stone nine times. The number of
circuits needed varies in different sources, but some output of energy
was needed if a wish was to be granted!
In 1926 a walk from Matlock Bank to the Wishing Stone was described
"By a narrow passage opposite the Congregational Church in
Chesterfield Road a path is entered leading across several fields.
At the sixth field turn to the left along a grassy path to Hurst
Farm. Round this
farm to the right by some cottages, and through a field to the mass
of rock known as the Wishing Stone. The views from this height
will tempt the visitor to linger. The return can be made by a path
on the right, down the hill from the Wishing Stone to Lumsdale first
mill ; and by keeping to the road, to a stile at the lower end of
the Dale, which leads across the fields to Matlock Bank".
The stone was still privately owned in 1926, although Councillors
had expressed an interest in buying it twenty eight years earlier
when it was known locally as the Broad Stone. In 1898 Council members
had suggested developing the area into walks. The stone
then belonged to a Mr. Berresford, who owned Hurst Farm although
Benjamin Bryan, writing
in 1903, believed it belonged to Mr. Garton as he wrote that Mr.
Garton did not object to the "wishers". Bryan also said
that it was "strangers coming to the place, by whom it is largely
visited" who called the rock "The Wishing Stone".
Unfortunately, the Council had a tip nearby, which
was causing problems by the early 1900s. In 1902 one Matlock visitor
complained about the state of the surroundings, remarking that "Matlock
is the most untidy, unkempt health resort I have any knowledge of.
You go down a pretty lane and find it disfigured by heaps of rubbish
... At the "Wishing Stone," ... the resort of every visitor
to breathe the sweet air of the pines, to enjoy the charming scenery,
and to sit with a book or work in the glorious sunshine, the seats
are placed beneath a mountain of filth. You are blown upon by odiferous
breezes ... while all around is strewn with pieces of paper, rag,
old tin kettles etc.".
This unknown visitor was not alone in voicing concern as a year earlier
a deputation from the hydros, who wanted to pay more rates and get
greater public enterprise, attended a Council meeting. The
Wishing Stone was then described as "surrounded by refuse tips,
with crowds of rats, and an offensive odour, spoiling the sentiment
when visitors went there to 'wish' ".
It was hardly a place for the visiting public to enjoy, especially
on a hot day, and hydro owners would have wanted something to be
done about an attraction their visitors could not enjoy properly.
The top picture shows the stone, with an attractive shelter where
a male walker appears to be resting, taken in the first decade of
the twentieth century. Presumably the Council's tip was behind the
Possibly 1930s or 1940s. It is difficult to tell what the teenage
girls are studying so intently but
they don't appear to be reading. Whilst they could be sewing,
they could equally be making
The Wishing Stone was presented to the town by Mr. E. H. Bailey,
of The Butts, Matlock, in February 1934.
In an announcement by Matlock's Urban Council the Wishing Stone was
noted as being one of the most popular of Matlock's beautiful walks,
and from it there was a picturesque view of the Matlock Valley. "There
are many strange rocks in Derbyshire, but this is the only "wishing
stone" known to ramblers".
Although the Council were to spend £123 10s. 1d laying out
the grounds, Mr. Bailey did quite a bit of the work himself.
The cleared paths and exposed stones in the image above shows
the extent of the work that was carried out in 1934. Of the numerous
images of the Wishing Stone this picture undoubtedly shows it at
The Wishing Stone, 2004
There is another postcard
of the Wishing Stone. See "Just" Images,
Also see Matlock: Various Scenes from the Early
 Ward Lock & Co's "Matlock,
Dovedale, Bakewell and South Derbyshire", Illustrated
Guide Books of England and Wales (1926-7). The guide book omitted
to say that there would one or two fairly steep slopes along the
route! Most of the paths described are still on today's maps but
the Congregational Church was demolished and Hurst Farm has been
a housing estate for a long time.
Times and Chesterfield Herald", 8 Oct 1898.
 Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History
of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons,
 "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield
Herald", 29 Nov 1902.
 "Derby Daily Telegraph", 8
 "Derby Daily Telegraph",
20 Feb 1934. Announcement at
a meeting of the Matlocks Urban Council the night before.
 "Derby Daily Telegraph",
18 June 1935.