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Matlock Bath: Royal Hotel Brochure, about 1908
Matlock Bath : Twentieth Century Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings
The Entrance Hall, Royal Hotel

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The Royal Hotel

Royal Hotel & Church


Royal Hotel & Baths (2) includes the names of most of the Hotel's Managers


The Royal Hotel, Pavilion & Holy Trinity Church

Visitors, 1909

Compare the baths shown here with:

Water Cures, Mr. Smedley's Baths, Boxes & Douches

Also see

Smedley's Brochure,
about 1925

Smedley's brochure, 1939

Here are several photographs from a small brochure about "The Royal Hotel and Bathing Establishment". The booklet was probably placed in the bedrooms for the hotel guests' use. The pictures were taken by Percy Rowbottom, a local photographer whose studio was, for many years, in the small building opposite the hotel (above the Fish Pond Hotel).

The top picture shows the Entrance Hall to the Royal Hotel in the first decade of the twentieth century. The Royal Hotel's Hall is shown to have been light and airy, with light coloured walls (possibly white or cream), quite a contrast to fussy Victorian interiors. It was full of bamboo and wicker chairs, which were introduced in the Edwardian era. The hotel was lit by electric lights, also a relatively new introduction, and the cost was included in the room price. Fires in rooms, though, were an additional extra on the hotel bill. Prices were fixed at 1/6 [one shilling and sixpence] for a fire in a private sitting room during the day and 2/6 for a fire during both the day and night. Bedroom fires were slightly cheaper at 1/- [one shilling] for the day and 2/- for day and night.

The Dining Room, Royal Hotel

The second photo shows the Dining Room, which had mock beams on the ceiling. The walls were papered down to the dado rail, below which was wood panelling. A fireplace between the two entrance archways warmed the room; it is unclear if the sloping chimney breast above it is painted or if it has a metal hood. There is definitely, however, a splayed metal hood above the actual fire; these were usually made of copper or iron. Above it is a deep wooden mantle shelf.

A former guest described the hotel:

"The windows of the dining-room, drawing-room and writing-room all look across to the terrace to the gorge of the Derwent ... By the side of the Hotel are the tennis courts, and behind it, higher up the hill, is the pavilion, a great glazed hall, which the proprietors of the Royal Hotel have recently bought. It is now chiefly used as a recreation room in bad weather, and a Badminton court has been traced out on the great dancing floor. The grounds belonging to the hotel are so extensive that a patient can take all the exercise he or she requires without moving beyond their borders".

Meals were inclusive if you stayed for a week or more, otherwise there was a charge, and Edwardian visitors could eat their way through breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

Activities and excursions for guests
Details of possible activities and excursions for guests.

Taking the waters in Matlock Bath had been a health cure for several centuries. The first spring had been discovered on the hotel's site in 1698 and the medicinal qualities of the drinking water were well known.

It is perhaps a slight exaggeration that the Golf Course was a few minutes walk from the Hotel (image 3)[1]. It would have been quite a hard climb up the hill to reach the links in Upperwood, and only a really fit person would have been able to do so in a few minutes. The quickest route would have been the path near the Speedwell Cavern. A slightly longer alternative would have been to climb the steps up through the grounds of the Palais Royal, reputed to number 365. So one for every day of the year!

The Royal Hotel provided entertainment for its visitors and a Milanese String Band is mentioned above, led by Professor Avanzi. They played in the Lounge twice daily during the season. It was a similar band that had brought Romolo Tinti to Matlock Bath not long before. He returned to the village to marry and swore the Oath of Allegiance in 1907[2].

This brochure dates from around 1908, under Andreas Büttgen's management[3]. The hotel employed quite a few Europeans before the first World War, as did many other British hotels and restaurants. Although none are listed in the 1901 census, by 1911 the hotel staff included people from both Austria and Germany. They had perhaps been initially employed a few years earlier during Herr Büttgen's time at the hotel. In 1911 the Chef was George Heimworth who was born in Berlin and a Masseuse, Clara Anna Kunth, was from Leipzig[4]. A few years later, at the outbreak of war in 1914, locals were shocked when three German waiters from the hotel were arrested, taken to Matlock Police station and then to Derby before being allowed to return to Matlock Bath[5].

The Hotel could provide rooms for servants, if required, or a servant could stay in the same room as their master or mistress. Dogs could also stay with their owners, but were not allowed in public rooms. The charge for a dog was 1/6 per day. Some of the bath treatments were also included in the daily or weekly room tariff. Some of the hotel's charges are shown below.

Terms of Residence [1908]

For visitors staying one week or longer.
£3. 10s., £3 17s., and £5 5s., per week, according to bedroom selected. Includes breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner ; also attendance and electric light and certain baths as stated on page 13

Winter reduction.
Visitors staying one month or longer, between November 1st and the end of February, are allowed a discount of 10 per cent. off the above tariff.

Daily tariff.
Attendance and electric light are included in the price of rooms, also baths as stated on page 13

Single bedrooms
Double bedrooms
Bedroom and Bathroom, en suite
Private Sitting Room
Bed for children
Servants' Room and Board
Servants' (if occupying Visitor's Room)




Ladies' Douche Bath
Ladies' Douche Bath

D'Arsonval High Frequency & X-Ray Apparatu
D'Arsonval High Frequency & X-Ray Apparatus
used at the time

Extras included:

Baths (on Bedroom Floor)

Ordinary Bath
Hip Bath

In the booklet are two pages showing small pictures of the baths and treatments available. Each page was beautifully presented, decorated in the Art Nouveau style with potted palms, moons and swirling lines as a backdrop to the photos.

1 Treatments available for female patients

Treatments for female patients

2 Treatments available for male patients

Treatments for male patients

Some of the images on the two pages have been enlarged below.

Fango di Battaglia.

Application of a Fango
Application of a Fango.


A Fango was a mud bath and the bathman is shown applying the hot mud pack to the patient's legs. The mud was washed off from wherever it had been applied, after a suitable time had elapsed, by either a warm douche or a spray.

The Fango used was "the Volcanic Mineral Deposit obtained from the Hot Springs of Battaglia, near Padua. It had been employed in Italy for centuries for the relief and cure of painful affections, such as sciatica, neuritis, lumbago, gout and rheumatism etc."

The treatment had been used successfully in German spa resorts such as Baden-Baden and Kissingen before being introduced to the Royal Hotel. The attendants were specially trained.

Fango Room (Ladies)

Vichy Douche Room (Ladies)


Four-Cell Electric Bath.

Four-Cell Electric Bath

The male patient in the photograph is fully dressed for this, although he is wearing shorts, not trousers. Women could also have this treatment.

The Electric Current was "administered in graduated doses, and directed to any part of the body".

Nauheim Bath Room


Sitz & Needle Bath & Aix Douche

Vichy Douche

Vichy Douche
Presumably the bathman ran the risk of getting wet, too.

Electric Light Bath

Electric Light Bath

Other available treatments included Sulphur Baths, Brine
Baths and Nauheim or Carbonic Baths.

Dowsing Radiant Heat Baths

This final image, which is on another page in the brochure, shows "a complete installation of the most modern type of this well known apparatus has recently been added by the Dowsing Company, and licence given for the administration of this valuable treatment by means of luminous heat rays and hot air to patients in Matlock Bath and district".

Brochure advertising the Royal Hotel, Matlock Bath. No date but about 1908. With photographs by Percy Rowbottom.
In the collection of and provided by and © Ken Smith.
Images scanned for this website and information written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only

References (coloured links are to transcripts elsewhere on this web site or more information):

[1] Matlock Bath Golf Course opened in 1903 but did not survive the First World War.

[2] "The London Gazette", 3 December 1907. Also see Matlock Bath: Lovers' Walks and the Band Stand

[3] A. Büttgen is in the brochure and he is listed as manager in Kelly's 1908 Directory. By the 1911 census Mr. Matthews had taken over at the Royal Hotel and Andreas Büttgen had moved to the Abernant Hotel, Llanwrtyd Wells in Brecknockshire. He was 34 in 1911, and had been born in Germany. His wife was from Belgium and two of their children were born in Matlock Bath. He subsequently moved to the Osborne Hotel, Langland Bay, near Swansea where a son was born but unfortunately got into financial difficulties ("Western Mail", 31 March 1914). He was released by the Official Receiver in 1915 (London Gazette, 24 August 1915). There are no further records but he does not seem to have emigrated. Andrew Büttgen possibly returned home, or even changed his name. It is likely that he would have been interned if he remained in Britain during WW1.

[4] The 1911 census is available on Find My Past (link opens in a new window).

[5] Beresford, Charles "The Bath at War, A Derbyshire Community and the Great War" (2007). Country Books/Ashridge Press. ISBN 978 1 901214 91 8.