A few years after the "discovery" of the Great Rutland Cavern
on the Heights of Abraham the following was published in
an article in "The Derby Mercury" in 1817.
It underlines how important a find the cavern was considered
to be, most especially to the Scientific World of the day.
"The discovery and opening of this tremendous Cemetery
of Nature has given to this country a rich treasure of the
most brilliant gems, rare fossils, and numerous minerals,
forming the most splendid natural Grotto in the World. Philosophers,
Mineralogists, Geologists and the public may now avail themselves
of a visit to this Treasure. ... A Mineralogical Survey of
this Wonder of Nature, and of these Kingdoms, has been lately
made by the first Mineralogist and Geologist of the age,
MR. MAW ; and his report confirms the reputation of the
RUTLAND CAVERN being the most valuable Classical Mineral
The Cavern was opened in 1810 and
has been mentioned in every tourist guide about Matlock Bath.
For example, in 1864 "The
Rutland Cavern, known as the Old Nester Mine, on the Heights
of Abraham, approached from the Museum Parade by the roadway
by Hodgkinson's Hotel, is the largest in Matlock, and has
the advantage of having the finest openings. ... The mine
is dry and easily penetrated, and is extremely rich in fossils
and minerals. The spars are extremely fine and brilliant".
Once Holme Road was built, tourists had an alternative route
up to the Lodge, where they would be charged admission for
entry to the Heights. Everyone uses the cable car now.
The Old Oak Tree (above) is one of several features within
the cavern* and the people on this old postcard, dating from
the 1950s, help to provide a sense of scale.
By 1903, when the image of the Roman Hall (below) was published,
the cavern was lit by gas.
It was then being advertised by Samuel Sprinthall, whose
descendants were still running the cavern in the 1950s. The
image itself dates from about 1850,
however. Interestingly, of the group at the very top of the
steps one gentleman is holding a candle aloft, perhaps to
show off some of the sparkle in the rocks. Various other
people on the steps are peering at the rock surface and a
man and woman are standing beside a table at the bottom of
the picture. They appear to be studying samples of rocks
and minerals displayed on the table and a book is open.
Roman Hall, The Great Rutland Cavern
showing the Roman Staircase and
1903 copy of an engraving dating from about 1850
*Not all areas in the cavern that were shown to the
public in the past are viewable today.
There is a great deal of information about the Rutland Cavern
in the various on site nineteenth century guides:
Excursions From Derby to Matlock Bath", 1818: Engraving
of "Romantic Bridge Rutland Cavern" (bottom
Excursions From Derby to Matlock Bath", 1818: Description
of the cavern
Excursions From Derby to Matlock Bath", 1818: Minerals
Barker's "The Panorama
of Matlock", 1827: section
William Adam's "Gem
of the Peak", 1840: Caverns & Mines
Bemroses' Guide to Matlock ...
, about 1869: see
Holmes "Hand Book
to Matlock Bath & Neighbourhood":
scroll down to section on The Caverns
Foot Through the Peak", 1868
Description in "On
Foot Through the Peak",
1868: Chapter 15
Derby Mercury", 24 July, 1817 - part extract
only. The cavern would have been known about locally before
it was "discovered".
 Flindall, Roger and Hayes,
Andrew (1976) "The Caverns and Mines of Matlock
Bath, 1 The Nestus Mines: Rutland and Masson Caverns",
Moorland Publishing Company
 ed. Jewitt, Llewellynn "Black's
Tourist Guide to Derbyshire" (1864) pub. Adam and
Charles Black Edinburgh, pp.233-4
 "Abel Heywood's Guide
Books, With Cycling, Walking and Driving Routes. Matlock
Illustrated." (1903) Abel Heywood & Son, Manchester & London.