In April 1871 Clarence House Hydropathic Hotel, a "newly
erected and commodious building" opened as a Private and
Family Boarding Establishment run by Joseph Roberts.
It catered for private boarders, families and was
a Hydropathic Sanatorium for invalids. Three years later Clarence
House was again
"open to receive visitors, where every comfort may be
Mr. T. Allen was then at the helm and, after
May 25th, was prepared to give bath treatment to those who
His advertisement announced that there was a Croquet Lawn attached
to the property (see bottom image). Mr. Allen didn't last long,
though, and the next name we find associated with the establishment
was Mr. William Cartledge. He applied for a licence to sell
beer, either off or on the premises, at the Wirksworth Brewster
Sessions held on 31 August 1875. The licence, which was granted
to him, could only be used for his lodgers.
During the first half of 1880 the Clarence was repeatedly
advertised as to let by the owner, Mr. A[dolphus] Wheatcroft
of Derby. However,
in August of that year his sister Mrs. Rosa MacDonald instructed
the Matlock auctioneers John Else to sell her household furniture
and effects as she was "moving to a distance".
Dr. Samuel Armstrong was in charge by 1882. His establishment
was "suitable for all classes of visitors and patients" and
his baths were "replete with every comfort
and convenience, at the most moderate charges".
The Clarence then had "ornamental gardens, tennis ground
... the usual reception rooms, bed and dressing rooms, 3
water closets, good cellaring, outbuildings, and ladies'
and gentlemen's bathrooms, supplied with hot and cold water". A
sale at the Station Hotel in the autumn of 1884 included
Clarence House and properties on Brunswood Road and Holme
Road amongst the Lots. Dr. Armstrong was selling up.
Then came the Rev. Richard Nicholson, who also ran an establishment
at Bridge House in Matlock.
He was followed by Frederick William Brooker, formerly of
Hodgkinson's Hotel, but tragedy struck when Annie Brooker
(nee Hodgkinson) died at the Clarence in 1900, followed by
her husband a couple of months later.
In 1903 it was announced that Mrs. Dewhurst, who had run
the establishment for a short time, was leaving and W. Chamberlain
was instructed to sell the contents of the house.
Shortly before this, in 1902, a surveyor's report had been
presented to Matlock Bath District Council which said there
had been negotiations with the trustees of Clarence Hydro
about acquiring a piece of land at the back entrance with
a view to setting back the wall and widening Hope Terrace
Hope Terrace itself was built behind what had been the bath-houses
of the Clarence. These outbuildings are now garages.
Address side of the postcard
This early twentieth century postcard, of The Clarence dates
from when Edward Theodore Aspey and his widowed mother
Eliza were running it as a hydropathic establishment. The
card has pictures on both sides and there is almost no
space for a message, so presumably it was sent more as
an advertisement than as a greeting. It shows us that there
was a large conservatory on the side of the house. A
wide flight of steps leads up to the front door from
the Holme Road entrance; there was and still isn't a pavement
on that side of the road.
The Aspeys had succeeded Mrs. Dewhurst
and Theodore's two sons were born at the Clarence, but by
1911 the family had moved to Borrowash and did not return
to Matlock Bath for some years.
The Clarence was then owned by Frederick Dalton, and later
rented to two Miss Osbornes who changed the name to Osborne
House. They left it after breakfast one morning, reappearing
about twenty years later and giving the explanation that
they departed because they had just had enough.
The building fell into dereliction in the 1940s but in
1949 Clarence House was auctioned by Marchant Brooks. It
was described as a valuable freehold investment property
and had been converted into eight flats.
The building seemed neglected, nevertheless, and the gardens
were not cared for. A section of the gardens next to the
croquet lawn (see picture below) were turned into allotments,
though these have now been built on.
In 2006 the property was bought and restored.
The back of the card, showing the view from the croquet lawn.
The rooftops of the houses of Rockvale Villas can be seen through
The screen of trees on the left formed the boundary with the