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Pathways to Riber Castle, passing Riber House Farm, Matlock
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1903 map of Riber

Riber Castle

Mr. Chippett's School at Riber

Pic Tor & Riber Castle, 1928

Riber, winter scene, 1937

Two views of the hillside below Riber Castle, this time showing Riber House Farm. The footpath up the hillside goes right past the farm's gate. It is almost certain that the Castle itself was uninhabited when the above photo was taken.

Riber House Farm had been the home of the William and Hannah Wilson in the nineteenth century[1], and their fields had previously been owned by Luke Wilson, William's father[2]. Although it isn't clear from census returns when William, Hannah and their family moved into Riber House, they were definitely there in 1871[1]. Following William Wilson's death at Mickleover in June 1888 the farm was offered for sale by the Matlock auctioneers Else & Son[3].

Auction Sale Notice, August 1888[3]:

"All that Valuable and Substantial Stone-built DWELLINGHOUSE, known as " Riber House," with the Garden, Yards, Outbuildings, and Appurtenances thereto belonging, situate at Riber aforesaid, together with Five fields of excellent grassland, numbered on the tithe commutation plan 1518, 1519, 1520, 1521, 1522[3] ... 6 acres ... now in occupation of Mrs W. Wilson[1].
Riber House which is most pleasantly situated (near to Riber Castle) commands some of the most extensive and delightful scenery in the locality. The house contains 2 Sitting Rooms, Store Room, Good Kitchen, and 5 bedrooms, there is also an excellent dry cellar, wash house, coach house and capital garden.
The outbuildings include two cow houses (one intended for stable), piggeries, hen cote &c.
There is an excellent Gritstone Quarry upon the property, the stone being of a most superior colour and quality.
The property is bounded by lands of Mrs Smedley (Riber Castle); Robert Lowe Esq. and Edward Harrison, Esq". ...

In November the same year it was advertised for letting; the farm and its six acres excellent grass land were said to be in an "elevated and healthy situation"[4]. George William Farnsworth and his family moved in[5]. Riber House must have been bought by Caroline Smedley as the property was among the Lots when Riber Castle was offered for sale in 1892 - "a pleasure farm, known "Riber House," with several fields - and Mr. G. W. Farnsworth was shown as the sitting tenant[6], paying a rental of £10. Like many others in the locality, Mrs. Farnsworth let out rooms[7]. Lucy Ann Farnsworth died in 1921[8] and her husband continued to live at Riber House for a few more years. Their home must have been filled with music at times as several generations of the family, with George William the oldest member in 1930, were participants in the Farnsworth family choir. It was famous in Matlock and District for singing Christmas carols for many years from 1888 onwards and raising money for charity[9]. Julie Bunting recounts how they all dressed up and painted their faces[10]. It must have been great fun. George William died in 1931, aged 74.

Riber House Farm. Enlargement from top image

Marchant Brookes offered Riber Castle and the "compact small holding" of Riber House Farm, with the surrounding land of approximately 31 acres, for sale in 1930[11] but on auction day the auctioneer had considerable difficulty raising a bid for the castle and the lot was withdrawn. Once that happened it was decided that Riber House Farm and other lots connected with the castle were also no longer available for sale[12]. Finally, in 1936, a buyer came forward and broke the links with the Castle; Mr. Stell purchased Riber House Farm, with 31 acres, for £550 as well as other lots of land in the vicinity for a total of £360[13].

Riber Castle, John Smedley's Victorian Gothic pile, dominating the skyline - before 1914.
Riber House Farm is high on the hillside, just below the Castle's left hand turret.
The buildings in the foreground are in Matlock Town and this picture would have been taken from
either above the Boat House Bridge or close to Salters Lane on the Masson hillside.

William Wilson is listed alongside other local landowners in 1873. See Lists Through the Centuries: The Nineteenth Century: Return of Owners of Land 1873 - Derbyshire

Images 1 and 2. "Pathways and Riber Castle, Starkholmes". Published by Lilywhite Ltd., No. STK 1. Posted on 2 May 1946 at Bonsall, Matlock. It was sent to London by a visitor staying at Herbert Lodge who thought the village and district very fine. The sender also reported that where she was staying was suffering from dry rot!
Image 3. "Matlock : Riber Castle". Celesque Series, published by Photochrom Co Ltd., London and Tunbridge Wells. No. F.47146. All British Production. Not posted, but another card posted in 1915.
Postcards in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured hyperlinks for onsite transcripts):

[1] The Wilsons are shown in the 1841 census | the 1851 census | the 1861 census | the 1871 census | the 1881 census | the 1891 census (Hannah only).
They also were shown in trade directories: Kelly's 1876 Directory (William wrongly recorded as Matthew Wilson) | Kelly's 1881 Directory | Kelly's 1887 Directory.
They had married at St. Giles' on 6 Nov 1842. William was the son of Luke Wilson (christened 1824, but born in 1819) and Hannah (christened 1820) the daughter of William Barker, deceased.

[2] The five fields identified in the sale notice (see item [3]) were shown in the 1848/9 tithe awards and on the 1850 map. They were known as Top Knowles Piece (1518), Middle Knowles Piece (1519), Bottom Knowles Piece, and Cow House (1520), Old Pasture (1521) and Big Mowing Piece, and Building (1522). At the time of the 1848/9 Tithe Award they were owned by Luke Wilson, who was the father-in-law of the1888 vendor. The footpath ran through the Big Mowing Piece.

[3] "Derbyshire Times", 25 August 1888. The Mrs. W. Wilson selling Riber House Farm was Hannah, the widow of William Wilson. She passed away at Starkholmes in 1896.

[4] "Derbyshire Times", 10 November 1888.

[5] At the time of the 1881 census the Farnsworths were at Starkholmes. They were shown living at Riber House in the 1891 census and the 1901 census.
Trade Directory entries for the Farnsworths include Kelly 1899 Directory | Kelly's 1908 Directory | Kelly's 1912 Directory | Kelly's 1916 Directory

[6] "Derbyshire Times", 10 September 1892. Mr. Farnsworth was paying a rental of £10.

[7] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 5 July 1895, Good Furnished Apartments be Let ; healthy situation ; moderate terms. Address Mrs. Farnsworth, Riber House Farm, Matlock.

[8] "Derbyshire Times", 29 November 1924. [In Memoriam] In loving memory of Lucy Ann, beloved wife of G. W. Farnsworth, Riber House, Matlock, who died November 25th, 1921.

[9] "Derbyshire Times", 11 October 1930.

[10] Bunting, Julie (2002) "Matlock and Matlock Bath", Tempus Publishing Ltd., The Mill, Brimscombe Port, Stroud. ISBN 0-7524-2455-6. Julie's book has a picture of a family wedding and an 1899 flyer advertising their performances.

[11] "Derbyshire Times", 6 September 1930. Notice of Sale by Auction on Monday, 15th September, at the Old English Hotel, Matlock.

[12] "Derbyshire Times", 20 September 1930.

[13] "Derbyshire Times", 30 October 1936.