In August 1932 an advertisement was placed by the Derby Auctioneers
J & W Heathcote announcing the sale of the 40 room mansion
in Matlock Bath known as Woodbank. It had vacant possession and came
with 24 acres of woodland. The suggested future use was for either
a hostel, a boarding school or a private hotel but the most striking
thing was that it was "very cheap".
The property was subsequently acquired by the Friendship Holiday
Association (F.H.A.) and was to be used as a holiday house. On Saturday
24th December the renamed Cromford Court was opened and over
100 guests arrived for the Christmas festivities.
At the Easter weekend of 1933 it was fully booked.
The Friendship Holiday Association was owned by Henry Charles
White. Between 1920
and 1961 he owned or leased over 40 properties all over the United
Kingdom although, according to his grand daughter Elizabeth Brooking,
the best times were in the 1930s. Her parents met through the F.H.A.,
nicknamed the "Finding a Husband Association". Following
Mr. White's death in 1961, aged 89, the Friendship Holiday
Association ceased trading and all its properties were sold. By
then travelling abroad had become both easier and cheaper and it
is probable that the type of holiday provided by the F.H.A. would
not have survived for much longer.
The top image dates from the 1930s and seems to indicate that
repair or restoration work was underway as there is scaffolding
on the right of the conservatory.
Cromford Court, date unknown.
After the War the building played a part in rehabilitating some
traumatised children. About 104 children, mostly from Vienna and
described as under-nourished and suffering from nerve strain, arrived
at Cromford Court in 1848 for a three-month stay in the United
Their visit was organised by the British Austrian Children's Reception
Committee and they were to stay at Cromford Court for a fortnight
before being allocated to families.
They had been allowed one suitcase each, but some had packed their
National Costume and a small group were photographed in the grounds.
According to a newspaper report, thanks to good food, fresh air,
comfortable beds and beautiful surroundings the children began
to put on weight and the shadows faded from under their eyes.
The final picture, below, picture includes a parked car to the
left of the house and was probably taken in the late1940s or early
1950s. It was taken from the far side of the croquet lawn.
There is more about Woodbank (Cromford Court)