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Croston : On Foot Through the Peak, 1868* (8)
Eighteenth and nineteenth century tour guides about Matlock Bath and Matlock
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High Tor Grotto, Matlock Dale

High Tor, one of the book's illustrations
On Foot Through the Peak
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Fern Cave

Mr. Cardin's advertisement

"Visited by the Ex-Queen of the French and Suite in 1856, who expressed themselves highly gratified".

A smaller advertisement was published in Hall's "Days in Derbyshire", 1863.

Historical notes about the High Tor Grotto and its famous visitor:

1. The ex-Queen of the French, Marie Amelia of Claremont Palace, stayed at the Old Bath Hotel for three days and she and her suite enjoyed the delights of the local scenery, including the High Tor Grotto. They seemingly crossed the Derwent via the wooden bridge and used the boats for the return trip ("Derbyshire Times", 30 September 1856).

2. Thomas Cardin, who was also a Lead Miner, was the cavern's tenant from before 1857;
he is mentioned in William Adam's Sixth Edition of "Gem of the Peak", published that year.

There is more on-site information about him.
His baptism (1818)
1841 census | 1851 census | 1861 census | 1871 census
White's 1862 Directory | Kelly's 1864 Directory
He was also the proprietor of Fern Cave.
He was buried at Matlock St. Giles' on 9 Oct 1879, aged 62.

3. An earlier guide, William Smedley, had made a somewhat unusual discovery in 1842.

Northampton Mercury 22 October 1842

"Curious Exploit of a Rat.—
At one of the subterranean exhibitions at Matlock Baths, known as the High Tor Grotto, it is the custom to place lighted candles on the sides at entering, which are left burning till the visitors return. On Wednesday week the guide, Mr. W. Smedley, went into the grotto with a gentleman, leaving the candles burning as usual, and on his return was surprised to meet a sedate-looking grey old rat, walking leisurely off with one of the burning candles, as if in the act of lighting himself about the business. On being observed, he quickly disappeared under a ledge of rock, taking his light with him."

This story was widely reported in the press. The first article, published in the Derbyshire Courier of 8 October 1842, said that Smedley had uncovered the place where the rat went and discovered a nest containing a female, six babies and a large number of spent candles!

*This was originally a transcript by Ann Andrews, done in November 2008 from:
Croston, James (1868) (2nd Ed) "On Foot Through the Peak; or a Summer Saunter Through the Hills and Dales of Derbyshire", Manchester: John Heywood, 141 & 143, Deansgate. London, Simpkin, Marshall & Co.
With my grateful thanks to Ray Ash who provided copies for me to OCR.
Image scans Copyright © Ray Ash.
Intended for personal use only.