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Mrs. Robert Wildgoose
People who lived in the Matlocks : Photographs, Photographs, Postcards, Engravings & Etchings

The photographs below are from the album of Mrs. Robert Wildgoose. The album now belongs to the Ash family and was in the possession of Ray Ash's step-grandmother Ash (Dora May Wheeldon before her marriage) who was Mrs. Wildgoose's companion and housekeeper in later years.

Portrait of Mrs. Robert Wildgoose in the Rectory Gardens, probably taken about 1900. Image Scan © Ray Ash

Maria Elizabeth (Marian) Wildgoose was born in Clifton, Bristol. She was the daughter of James and Emma Painter and was baptized on 9 Mar 1856 at St. Michael's Church, Bristol[1]. She became the second wife of Robert Wildgoose; they married in Kensington, London towards the end of 1891. She was to be found living in London in 1881[2], next door to her brother Frederick George, later Sir F G Painter, who was a Chartered Accountant and later a Sheriff of the City of London[3]. At the time of her marriage, and for many years afterwards, she lived at The Gables on Chesterfield Road[2] but at some time between 1916 and 1925 she moved to Stoneycroft, the house she had built on Cavendish Road. She died on 19 May 1937 at the Queen Mary Nursing Home, Derby[4]. She had been a secretary of the Matlock and District Nursing Association and a supporter of the Matlock Unionist League[3].

Her husband, Robert Wildgoose (1822 - 1900), was described in the 1881 census as the Trustee Manager For Hosiery Manufacturer Employing Nine Hundred Work People[2]. He was managing Lea Mills at that time and living in at The Poplars, Holloway, with his first wife, Ann, and their servants. He was still living at Holloway in 1887, by which time he had become a Justice of the Peace[5]. But by 1891 he had retired from the Mill and had moved to The Gables with two of his female cousins, Elizabeth and Hannah. He was by then a widower[2].

He was born on the 27th September 1822[6] and baptised at Matlock Church on 3 November, the son of John and Fanny Wildgoose of Greenhill[7]. He married first Ann, the daughter of Aaron Stoppard of Lea, on 20 Dec 1847 at Ashover Parish Church[8].

Robert became involved with the management of Smedley's Hydro. "In 1875, the institution was acquired by a limited company, of which Mr. R. Wildgoose was the chairman, a post he continued to fill until his death in 1900"[9]. Whilst he was chairman the company invested £30,000 on modernization and also enlarged and improved the building on three occasions in 1881, 1884 and 1886.

He was also one of the directors of the Tram company and made a gift of the Tram Shelter and its clock to the town. "The structure was formally opened for use and the clock started by the donor and his wife on the 12th December, 1889, the Chairman of the Urban Council, Mr. E. Slack, and many inhabitants being present to express their hearty acknowledgements. A suitably inscribed brass plaque perpetuates the name of the generous donor, the cost to whom was £25"[9]. He was also listed as one of the Board of Governors of Matlock's Causeway Lane Almshouses[9] and had been a County Magistrate[3].

After his funeral, one of the largest to take place in the district, it was said that he "had made the last half century of his life one of devotion to the advancement of the spiritual and temporal benefit of the community". His coffin was carried by workers from Smedleys and Lea Mills. The Smedley's bearers were F. Bryon, J. Smith, C. Henstock, C. Yates, J. Parsons and W. Slater. Those from Lea Mills were J. Buxton, R. Fern, G. Dawes, W. Worthy, J. Ashmore and H. Shipley. Many societies, associations, churches and chapels and well as representatives from public bodies, local organisations and companies he had been connected with attended the service[6]. Amongst the tributes at the graveside was a wreath sent by Miss Florence Nightingale with a note attached that read: "This wreath is sent in memory of a good, nay, even a great man. For greatness consists not in post or rank, but in how we fulfil its duties, and in our nearness to God in doing so. - Florence Nightingale"[a].

Left to right: Unknown lady, possibly Miss Kewley, Marian Wildgoose, Canon James William Kewley. © Ray Ash

Mrs. Wildgoose was a good friend of Canon Kewley, the Rector of St. Giles' Church, and his sisters. She is pictured above with Canon Kewley; the other lady in the photograph may have been Miss Kewley (Harriett Elizabeth).

A little booklet about the church gives some details of the Bells, which were re hung in 1936 but had been recast in 1904. The recasting of Tenor Bell was the gift of Marian Wildgoose and the Treble Bell was in memory of her husband[11]. Both Marian and Robert were buried at St. Giles.

Portrait of Mrs. Robert Wildgoose (Marian Elizabeth) seated on the running board of her car. Mrs. Wildgoose employed a chauffeur to drive the car. Image Scan © Ray Ash

The photograph above shows Mrs. Wildgoose sitting on the running board of her motor car, which was a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. She didn't drive the car herself but employed a chauffeur to drive her around. When she died she left the open-topped Rolls Royce to the Reverend W H Nixon who was Vicar of All Saints. It is said that Nixon subsequently used the car.
About All Saints' Church

Mrs. Wildgoose spent quite a bit of time in Devon and took many pictures of Tavistock and Dartmoor. It is probable that she owned another house there. She was clearly a keen photographer and her subjects included her servants, the Rector and his sisters.

The Gables, Chesterfield Road, Matlock, the home of Mrs. Marian Wildgoose for many years from 1891. From her photgraph album. Image Scan © Ray Ash

Whilst the main subject of the above photograph was of her cat, Peter, the stone house in the background with the beautiful bay windows is The Gables and is why this picture has been included. The Gables became part of Dalefield / Lilybank Hydro, the buildings joined through an almost round extension that was built on the left hand side of the house. So Mrs. Wildgoose's home became part of the hydro. Her other home, Stoneycroft, was occupied by Henry Hetherington after she died. It was later bought by Derbyshire County Council as living accommodation for male students of Matlock's Teacher Training College, along with neighbouring properties on Cavendish Road. It has now reverted to private ownership.

There is more about Dalefield / Lilybank / The Gables

Lilybank Hydro (Dalefield)

Barton's Dalefield Hydro 1904

Sun lounge 1930s


1950s multi view, with advertisement

1930s, with advertisement

Letterheads of Local Businesses, 1900-1949 (3) - Lilybank

Dinner menus
from the late 1950's

Sally Mosley's article about the school (Newspapers section)

You may like to view more onsite information
Bank Road & the Steep-Gradient Tramway, with which Robert Wildgoose was involved
Water Cures
Matlock Biographies
Memorial Inscriptions, a Surnames Index
Matlock Wills Calendar for Post 1858 Wills (Robert Wildgoose)

There is a One Name Study for this surname
See Kay Feltham's site at

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Smedley's Hydro,
early 1900s

Bank Road & the Steep-Gradient Tramway

The Park & Tram Shelter

Mrs. Wildgoose's Servants

Canon Kewley & His Sisters

Garden Party at Matlock Rectory

Miss Florence Nightingale

All the images published here with kind permission of Ray Ash. Image scans © Ray Ash.
Information carefully researched by and © the web mistress and Ray Ash and is intended for personal use only.
The details of Mrs. Wildgoose's family provided by the late Norman Ash.
If you have any further information, or know more about the car Mrs. Wildgoose owned, we would really appreciate knowing ourselves. Please contact both the web mistress (see Contact Ann in the footer).

References (click coloured links to go to onsite references):

[1] IGI
[2] Census returns of England and Wales, researched by Ann and Ray. Robert Wildgoose was living at The Gables in the 1891 census. Marian was living there in the 1901 census.
[3] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 20th May 1937 (announcement of death) and 22 May 1937 (report of funeral).
[4] Will calendars at the London Probate Department, London.
[5] Local trade directories. Matlock directories include Matlock Local Board, 1891 | Kelly's, 1891 | Kelly's, 1908 | Kelly's, 1916.
[6] "Derbyshire Times", 12 May 1900.
[7] St. Giles Church Hatches, Matches & Dispatches. See his baptism in 1822.
[8] Ashover Church PR and "The Derby Mercury".
[9] Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons, Limited.
[10] "Derbyshire Times", 26 May 1900.
[11] "Matlock Parish Church, Pictorial Guide and Souvenir" (1969) ed. unnamed, The Church Publishers, Ramsgate.