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Matlock Bath: Mr. Buxton's Royal Museum & the Great Petrifying Well
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Before 1840

The Great Petrifying Well, 1932

The Ferry House, Spar Shop & Obelisk, 19thC

South Parade, 1909

South Parade, 1910 - the Roads & Boden's Restaurant

Mr. Buxton's Royal Museum

The river behind South Parade's shops and businesses

Ward Lock Guide

More images from the Ward Lock Guide, 1903

The Royal Pavilion - the Palais Royal

Lover's Walk and the Ferry House, 1903

The Promenade, 1902

Shown here is Matlock Bath's South Parade at the very beginning of the Edwardian era. The buildings on the left, as far as the junction with The Pitchings (Waterloo Road) are little changed today. This had been the Great Hotel at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The large oval sign for Hodgkinson's Hotel, also part of the earlier hotel, is almost right in the middle of the picture!

On the far right are two of the buildings that disappeared when the road through Matlock Bath was widened - the shop called Royal Museum and the Great Petrifying Well. When describing the Buxton family of Matlock Bath[1] my late father wrote that "the first recollection I had of them was when they were living at what they styled as "The Royal Museum". It was a novelty jewellery and ornament vending shop with the emphasis on Blue John, petrified objects and the like. ... The original "Royal Museum was, of course, on the other side of the road. ... When the Buxton family vacated the Spa shop they went to live in a house they had built above Temple Walk[2]".

The Great Petrifying Well was one of several Petrifying Wells that had existed in Matlock Bath over the years. Shelves displaying petrified objects are clearly visible on the external wall[3]. "Few visitors care to journey homewards without a nest, and egg, a stick, or some other object coated in stone, to remind them when the holiday is over of the dales and heights of lovely Matlock[4]". The larger of the two signs by the doorway tells us that this was "The Largest & Principal Petrifying Well in Matlock". Bryan commented that the interior of Ogden's Well was half oval in shape[5].

Whilst the G. W. Wilson & Co. photograph from Ward Lock's 1903 guide, below, is less clear, it shows slightly more of the front of the Petrifying Well building.

In 1881 there was a dispute over who owned part of pavement on the right. John Brown, Mayor of Chesterfield, claimed he owned freehold of the land, which had previously belonged to a small company belonging to the Old Bath Hotel. When it was allotted there had been a low fence and when Messrs. Smedley and Ogden erected their petrifying well he instructed them to take it back some two feet to allow for an awning over the front of the shops and to give space for articles to be sold without obstructing the footway. When the neighbouring restaurant was built it was also set back two feet. When questioned further Brown said that some 30 years before he had laid down asphalt and had always understood that the whole frontage belonged to him, including "round by the pond" and he had never heard that the local board had a right to it. He had been asked by some Matlock people if he would sell it so that the footway round the pond could be widened. The matter had to go to quarter sessions[6].

John Ogden, a son of Francis and Mary, ran this petrifying well for many years; he lived in Crowpie Square[2]. He gave up the business just before he died in 1924 and the press reported that a family connection with Matlock Bath had just been severed. "Mr. John Ogdon [sic.], who has been living with his sister at Steeple Grange. Wirksworth, for the past few' months, letting his Matlock residence. There has been an Ogdon resident Matlock Bath since 1714. Mr. John Ogden was known to thousands of visitors as the proprietor of a petrifying well, and his father was a spar and marble merchant, whilst his grandfather, also Mr. John Ogden, was the founder of the baths at Matlock Bath, at the period when they were owned by Mr. George Vernon. The centre of Matlock Bath at this time was owned by Mr. Vernon, and was known as "the Great Hotel ", but he disposed of his interests in two sales in 1805 and 1812. The original John Ogden, by the way, was the celebrated fishing manufacturer of that name at Cheltenham[7]".

A coloured version of the black and white Ward Lock picture, published by a local trader,
John Moseley White, who had a fancy repository for a time on Derwent Parade[2].

1. Top postcard, "Matlock Bath, South Promenade and Heights of Abraham". Publisher not known, but no. 20803. Another card was posted in 1905. In the collection of and provided by and © Ken Smith. Image scanned for this website by and © Ann Andrews. Added February 2010.
2. Middle photograph, by G. W. Wilson & Co. Ltd., Aberdeen, from Ward Lock & Co's "Guide to Matlock, Dovedale, Etc.", Illustrated Guide Books of England and Wales (Guide Series 1903-4).
In the collection of, provided by and scan © Ann Andrews.
3. Bottom postcard "At Matlock Bath". The Derwent Series, Published by J M White, Derwent Arcade, Matlock Bath. Posted 1909. © Susan Tomlinson collection.
Information researched and written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References - coloured links go to on-site transcripts or information:

[1] Herbert Buxton appears in all the Matlock Bath census returns between 1841 and 1901.

[2] Reminiscences of the late Mr. Frank Clay, from his private papers and notes owned by the web mistress.

[3] There is more about Petrifying Wells, Petrification and Petrifactioners elsewhere on this web site. See:


[4] Ward Lock Guide.

[5] Bryan, Benjamin (1903). "Matlock Manor and Parish", 1903.

[6] "Derbyshire Times", 4 June 1881. Matlock Petty Sessions. The two men names were William Smedley and Francis Ogden.

[7] "Derbyshire Times", 26 April 1924. The Ogden surname can also be found under: Pre 1858 Wills & Administrations, Surnames H - R | Wills & Administrations, 1858 - 1928, Surnames M - R | 19th Century Directories.