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The Gentleman's Magazine Library, 1731-1868
English Topography Part III Derbyshire - Dorsetshire
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[1805, Part I., p. 217]
I send you (Plate II.) a view of Markeaton Church, in Derbyshire, for a brief description of which your readers are referred to a letter of mine in Vol. LXII., p.306.

Yours, etc., J.P.M

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[1793, Part I, pp. 505, 506.],
The rough and rugged scenes at and near Matlock have afforded such scope to the powers of poetry, painting and description, that I presume such of your readers as have not been there may think very little more can be said on the subject. However, pray indulge me with a page in attempting to describe the road from Chesterfield to Wirksworth. On a sultry day in August last I left Chesterfield, and for some distance was amused in passing along a pleasant road, which at length began to rise and fall over hill and valley in a manner not altogether agreeable. Besides, the vegetation diminished, the trees were less, the luxuriant verdure of the level gave place to brown heath and ragged stones, but, as I had not been to Matlock by this road before, I felt consoled in the hope of soon reaching the commencement of those scenes at once the haunts of business, pleasure and health. But as we are taught that to reach any point of felicity many dangers and fatigues must be encountered, so, in the approach to Matlock, a gloomy variety presents itself. From the tops of the rude, misshapen masses, some of which are of great height, a great extent of country spreads before you, studded with Hardwicke, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Wingerworth, etc. While I remained on the summit the air was sweet and refreshing ; I experienced the reviving scents accumulated from myriads of plants. The valleys afford nothing but dust and a most intolerable concentrated heat. The stone walls, too, break the little circulation of air that would otherwise prevail. So desolate is this part of Derbyshire, that for some miles I saw but two or three habitations. What, indeed, but extreme wretchedness could induce a person to live exposed to the keen northern blasts that whirl round those bleak rocks After descending an almost endless hill, the road makes an elbow, leaving Ashover Church to the left, which peeps beautifully among a group of trees; and here, for a mile or two, Nature gives a rough sketch of what she intends at Matlock. The right side of the road (which now ascends) is moderately level, scattered with cottages and trees; the left, a bold rock adorned with many trees; now the road this rock closing forms a dark passage, composed of houses, trees and rocks, cool and refreshing after a barren ride of upwards of eight miles. Here again the traveller seems to leave the cheerful society of man ; he plunges at once into a desert - not a tree or a bush to relieve the black waving horizon. To make the scene still more gloomy, the clouds grew dark, the sun assumed a fiery red, and, as I rode, dismal tolling of a large bell saluted my ears. Not a mortal near me, the evening approaching; but that I was certain Matlock was not more than two miles before me, I should have been tempted to return, were it only for the comfort of again seeing a living creature

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Besides my horse. As the ground I was on was much higher than any of the hills at Matlock, I was at once surprised and delighted with a grand and awful scene that expanded below me ; all the rich profusion of wild Nature thrown together in an assemblage of objects the most sublime. To heighten the view, the Torr and rocks near it were covered with crowds of people. Never did man appear to me before in so humiliating a state; contrasted with the vast piles of rock and mountain, he seemed diminished to a spec, an atom. My curiosity was raised to account for this, I nearly said, phenomenon : crowds on the summits of places almost inaccessible, never visited but by an adventurous traveller or unlucky boy. Sometimes, indeed, a straggling cow will advance to the verge of the rocks and snuff the air; once I observed one with its fore-feet so near the edge of the Torr that its neck and breast were visible from the road beneath. After viewing with delight this assemblage of Nature's works I began to descend. The way was now lined with houses, and at each step it was amusing to observe Matlock hills rising into consequence till, reaching the bridge, they disappear ; when turning you view the road you have passed winding up an uncultivated rugged hill, intersected by stone walls. The bridge is plain, strong and in good repair. Much cannot be said of the town : the houses are comfortable, but much scattered; the church is plain, except the tower, which is rather handsome. Its situation is fine, on top of a considerable precipice; many trees grow on the abrupt adge and at the bottom. Upon passing the river, you enter valley in which it glides; each step adds to the beauty of the scene. The road winds close on the river, sometimes hid by a group of trees. The boathouse, placed under a rock and overgrown with foliage, must not pass unnoticed, on viewing the vast and extended wall which towers tremendous before you, unshaken by time, though not impervious to persevering man; for many of the chasms in this pile afford passages to mines, some worked, some neglected. To the right, as you proceed, the hill rises to a great height, nearly uninterrupted by rocks, while the opposite side makes an acute angle, near which is the High Torr. This rock is of an amazing height, and nearly perpendicular; it is pointed at top. For a very great depth this rock is quite bare, and much smoother than any round it; the descent then becomes less abrupt. At the foot a mine is worked, which penetrates a great distance; a shaft meets it from the surface, back to the Torr. The road was now nearly impassable from the crowds of people and carriages ; for Sir Richard Arkwright's funeral passed the Torr for Matlock Church, where he is to lie till a chapel now erecting, and begun by him, shall be finished. I no longer wondered at people on the rocks; a better opportunity of judging the population of this place could not have offered, and it is surprisingly great. The ceremony was conducted with much pomp, and,

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as nearly as I can remember, was thus: A coach and four with the clergy; another with the pall-bearers; the hearse, covered with escutcheons, surrounded by mutes, followed ; then the horse of the deceased, led by a servant; the relations, and about fifteen or twenty carriages, closed the procession, which was perhaps half a mile in length.

The evening was gloomy, and the solemn stillness that reigned was only interrupted by the rumbling of the carriages and the gentle murmurs of the river; and as they passed, the echo of the Torr gently returned the sound. The whole was so rich and uncommon that I continued to gaze till a turn in the road closed the whole…..

Such a variety is there at this place that a particular description is next to impossible. Imagine yourself on the hill, the river beneath, numberless trees in all the various forms that an obstructing rock or a want of support can occasion, a white rock towering above you; the road, now leading to Cromford, makes a sudden turn close to it; a cotton-mill, with a neat little turret, surrounded by trees, the massy wheel turning slowly, the water foaming from it ; at some distance, Sir R. A. Arkwright's house, like a vast castle, with its keep, etc., all embattled; farther, his mills, Cromford Bridge, and the new chapel; behind, a chain of hills, partly covered with wood, opposite the house a huge rock, fantastically adorned with shrubs and trees; through this rock the road is carried with much labour. Such is the scene on leaving Matlock. Proceeding, a long rough hill, lined by new stone houses, makes the traveller regret what he has left. Much to Sir Richard's credit, those habitations are most comfortable. And, if one may judge of prosperity by the insolence met with on this hill (from those who had been to gape at the funeral), surely Cromford is a happy place; but let it be understood, that I believe the holiday had produced this redundancy of wit. After an unpleasant ride over rough ways, which still are compensated by the rich views of Matlock and Sir Richard Arkwright's house, I arrived at Hopton, the hospitable mansion of Mr. Gell, much pleased with is my route. ...


[1795, Part II, p. 657.]
Permit me to present to your readers a view of that stupendous rock, the Torr at Matlock (Plate III., Fig. 3). ...J. P. M.

(1793, Part II., p. 885.]
Having seen in your entertaining miscellany some picturesque views in Derbyshire by your ingenious correspondent J. P. Malcolm, I imagine the enclosed drawing of some very singular rocks near Matlock Bath (see Plate II.) may be acceptable to many of your readers.

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The traveller who wishes to explore this curious country must quit the trodden path, climb the cragged cliff, and penetrate the dark recess. he will there find ample recompense for his trouble.

The rocks here represented are upon the brow of the hill, directly behind Mason's Bath, but the ground is enclosed with stone walls, which, together with the bushes and brambles that surround the rocks, make the approach rather difficult.

This curious group of rocks evidently appears to have been separated by some violent convulsion in nature, which has also formed several chasms: the projection of the little rock over the great one is very remarkable. From this spot you command a very extensive and pleasing view, I think preferable to any in the neighbourhood of Matlock.

It may be thought extraordinary that no path has been made from the Hall-house to this romantic spot; but, to take off this appearance of neglect in Mr. Mason, who is as attentive to the amusement as he to the accommodation of his numerous guests, it is necessary to say that the ground behind the house is not his property.

Yours, etc., H. ROOKE


[1792, Part I., p. 409.]
Measham is situated on the southernmost edge of Derbyshire, 3 miles from Ashby-de-la-Zouch, on the road to Tamworth. It is now, through the exertions of Joseph Wilkes, Esq., a populous village, and the buildings are much improved. It has a market-house, though there is not a regular market; and Mr. Wilkes has built a corn-mill, which is worked to great effect by steam-engines.

"The church (see Plate III.), which formerly belonged to the priory at Greseley, has a modern tower rebuilt upon an ancient body. The living is a donative curacy. Joseph Wilkes, Esq., is patron, who purchased this estate of a Mr. Wollaston. The present minister is the Rev. Thomas Mould, one of the masters of Appleby School, who also holds the curacy of Gresley. -Abney, Esq., has likewise considerable property here, and has built a good house at a small distance from the village called Measham Field, where he resides."

-See "Topographer," vol. i., p. 521.

S. S.


[1818, Part I., p. 497.]
The parish of Norton, in the hundred of Scarsdale, and deanery of Chesterfield, is situate 8 miles from Chesterfield, and 4 from Sheffield. It takes its name apparently, according to Dr. Pegge, from its being in the most northern part of Derbyshire.

The church (of which a drawing by the late Mr. Grimm accom-

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panies this, see Plate II.) is dedicated to St. James. It was given to the Abbey of Beauchief by its founder, Robert Fitz Ralph and was appropriated to that monastery, which was distant about 2 miles from Norton. The present impropriator of the great tithes is Samuel Shore, Esq. The present incumbent, Henry Pearson, L.L.B., is also patron of the vicarage, which is a discharged living, and is rated in the King's Books at £45 3s. 6d. With the aid of several benefactions, the endowment is now about £150 a year.

In the church is the monument (without inscription) of the father and mother of John Blythe, Bishop of Salisbury, and Geffrey Blythe, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (who appear to have been natives of Norton), and the tomb of their elder brother Richard. There are also monuments to the families of Eyre of Bradway, Bullock, Morewood, Gill, Clarke, and Bagshaw. The number of houses in Norton in 1811 was 300, of families 305, consisting of 1,446 males and 1,527 females.

A satisfactory description of the parish may be seen in Messrs. Lyson's " Topographical Account of Derbyshire," recently published.

Yours, etc., N. R. S

Elsewhere on this web site
Images of
Matlock & Matlock Bath