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Matlock: The Wishing Stone
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From the Vernon Lamb Archive


Lumsdale is nearby

A Wishing Stone at Bradgate Park, Little Matlock, Leicestershire

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 as follows:

"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"[1].

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[2] although Benjamin Bryan[3], 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.[4]". 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'[5] ". 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 wall.

There are initials carved on the stone. They almost certainly are R.B.W.E. although the last
two letters are not quite as clear as the first two.

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
daisy chains.

The Wishing Stone was presented to the town by Mr. E. H. Bailey, of The Butts, Matlock, in February 1934[6]. 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[6]". Although the Council were to spend £123 10s. 1d laying out the grounds, Mr. Bailey did quite a bit of the work himself[7]. 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 its best.

The Wishing Stone, 2004

There is another postcard of the Wishing Stone. See "Just" Images, Matlock.
Also see Matlock: Multiviews from the late Nineteenth Century to 1914 (on the third image down)

Vernon Lamb Archive, VLA5083
. Family group at the Wishing Stone, 1910-14

1. Top image: "The Wishing Stone, Matlock". The Bon Marche series, No.3513. Printed in Saxony. Not posted. In the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
2. "The Wishing Stone, Matlock" published by Rhodes Shops, No.4909. Photo., A. J. Roberts. posted on 25 Aug 1948. In the collection of, provided by and © Pauline Jordan.
3. "Wishing Stone, Matlock". One of Valentine's Picture Panels of Matlock & District, printed in Great Britain. No.204461? Real Photograph (1 of 12). First published in 1928.
4. "The Wishing Stone, Matlock". No publisher and not used. © Ray Ash collection.
5. 2004 photograph © Private Contributor.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] 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.

[2] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 8 Oct 1898.

[3] Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons, Limited.

[4] "Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald", 29 Nov 1902.

[5] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 8 May 1901.

[6] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 20 Feb 1934. Announcement at a meeting of the Matlocks Urban Council the night before.

[7] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 18 June 1935.