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The Panorama of Matlock, 1827*
Eighteenth and nineteenth century tour guides about Matlock Bath and Matlock

Museum, Caverns &c.
The Devonshire Cavern pp.12-20

Section of the frontispiece from the 3rd edition, 1828
Panorama of Matlock
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AMUSING myself in front of the Old Bath, (the hotel which I had chosen for my residence), and occasionally contemplating the beautiful scenery within view; I was particularly struck with a pile of building below. On descending to satisfy my curiosity, I passed the Saloon, or Circulating Library, which was then crowded with elegant company, and arrived at the object that had engaged my attention; which proved to be the MUSEUM, a place of attraction, forming the general rendezvous of Matlock : here I was agreeably surprised to meet with many of my acquaintance, of whose arrival I was not as yet aware, and who expressed the same feeling toward me on our mutual recognition. Perhaps one of the greatest charms attending an excursion to these frequented places of resort, is the fortuitous reunion, the accidental meeting of friends, who had supposed each other at a great distance, and separated for a considerable length of time*.

THE MUSEUM is under the patronage of His Grace the Duke of Devonshire, and enjoys also that of the

[footnote on page 12]
*I suggested to the Proprietor of the Museum to keep a Book of Arrivals.

Duke of Rutland and was honoured by visits from the Duke of York when that lamented prince was in Derbyshire.

IT was here that I found the most curious and interesting productions of the country, in specimens of the spar* manufactured into vases of exquisite form and design copied from the Antique; also models of Egyptian obelisks and columns engraved in a superior manner, with great accuracy, from the originals on black marble of the choicest quality.

THE Proprietor imports a great variety of fine alabaster, in vases,, &c, from Florence†; also marble statues from various parts of Italy, which greatly contribute to enhance the attractions of this establishment. The Vases

[footnote on page 13]
*I feel gratified in being able to add to this brief description, the following notice from a little work written by Mr. Moore: " The Museum
" occupies the centre of tile Parade; the room is spacious, and the ad-
" mission is free. The amethystine fluor spar, and tile marble orna-
" ments are very beautiful; minerals, shells, and other articles of na-
" tural history, are also kept here, which render it an agreeable and
" very interesting lounge."
†The Italian alabaster is beautifully white, and does not change colour.

of black marble, the Obelisks, Sarcophagi, Cenotaphs, &c. are closely copied from the originals, and are far superior in workmanship to any now made in Italy.

IN the heat of the day; or in rainy weather, I found the Museum to be the centre of general resort. It was here; while on a visit to a gentleman in the neighbourhood, that I was introduced to the illustrious personage who is now Emperor of Russia, also to the Archdukes John and Louis of Austria, who were delighted with this well stored and interesting depository. While noticing this place, I consider it a duty to say more of it than, as a mere lounger I otherwise should, in consideration of the great civility and general information I received from the attendants.

THE Mineralogical Establishment consists of a fine collection of minerals, particularly those of the county; also a complete series of geological specimens; both of which classes of substances are in such request, that few .persons visit Matlock who do not avail themselves of the opportunity of taking from this place a portion of its varied stores.

I HAVE often thought that Matlock would be a most convenient and eligible resort for the study of mineralogy and practical mining; I was also much gratified to find that during a short visit here, the Proprietor devoted one hour every morning in making experiments on the minerals, exhibiting the forms of their crystallization, and giving information on the geology of Derbyshire.

To enjoy the walks about Matlock, requires some vigorous exertion, there being so many hills to climb, mines to visit, and caverns to explore. The country is viewed to the greatest advantage from the heights, whence the extent of prospect may be truly called sublime, the valley forming a panoramic scene at once enchanting and delightful.


'THE visitors of Matlock, who make any considerable stay, usually form parties and visit the undermentioned places:

The Devonshire Cavern, and Botanic Garden.
The Fluor Cavern; and Dungeon Rocks.
The Cumberland Cavern.
The Rutland Cavern.
The Petrifying Wells.

THE Mine belonging to the Proprietor of the Museum is not more than two hundred yards distant, and is entered from the turnpike road: being particularly easy of access, no hill to mount, it is much visited. It exhibits a vein of lead ore, the manner of working which is pointed out by the guide, if the miners should happen to be absent.

THE Grotto across the river, which is a mine at the foot of the High Tor, is the most interesting of all the caverns, the roof and sides being lined with spar.

THERE are two Petrifying Wells, in which, if birds' nests, twigs, baskets, or bones, be placed for the space of two years, they will become encrusted with a calcareous deposit, or, according to the term used at Matlock, petrified.

Rationale.-The water filtering through a stratum of tuffa, drops from the roof and sides, and, losing a part of its carbonic air, precipitates earthy particles upon the substance on which it falls.


OF the wonders here enumerated, we shall first notice the Devonshire Cavern, which was discovered about four years ago, and so named in honour of the Duke. It is visited by every curious resident; and on comparison with the others, is greatly preferred, being a natural cavern, and of very great extent, and presenting an infinite number of "water-icicles, " (a most appropriate local term), some of which line the sides, and others are pendant from the roof.

ANOTHER reason for this preference is, that when visitors have reached the farther end, and begin to think on the unwelcome task of retracing their steps, they are surprised and gratified to perceive that daylight waits their farther advance; and, on attaining a considerable elevation, they find themselves in the open atmosphere, near the airy summit of one of the highest mountains in the vicinity of Matlock*. The delight inspired by this

[footnote on page 17]
* A nobleman visited this cavern, attended by his physician, who pro- [see bottom of page 18]

sudden transition from subterranean darkness to the light of the mountain's brow, might have called forth from such a bard as Lord Byron one of those impassioned bursts of poetry with which his Childe Harold hails the dawn of morning on the Alps.

FROM this eminence are various footpaths leading to picturesque and romantic views. The guide will conduct you to the mining village of Bonsall or to Cromford; or, descending by the contrary road, and passing by the old Nestor mine, now called the Rutland Cavern, will lead you through a succession of beautiful scenery, to the margin of the Derwent, at the base of the High Tor.

THE mountains of this interesting range are limestone, and considered to be of the first floetz formation. They arc full of marine exuviæ, and exhibit every appearance of marine deposit. The limestone stratum alternates with a substance here called Toad-stone. The neighbouring scenery, for a mile each way, may be called

[footnote on page 18 - continued from previous page]
nounced it to be the most healthful, from its free circulation of air; those caverns which have only one opening being subject to noxious malaria.

unique, and affords one of the finest walks that can be imagined after the heat of the day.

THE rapid stream of the Derwent is here diverted from its channel to turn a wheel, which, in connexion with other machinery, is employed to pump the water from a mine four hundred yards distant, to which there is a subterraneous passage, gallery, sough, or level.

CONTINUING along the riverside, fresh scenery occurs; and, after proceeding a short distance, the spectator discerns the humble cottage of PHŒBE; a little farther from which is seen a beautiful modern villa, adorned with great taste, and appearing more remarkable by the force of contrast.

RETURNING to Matlock Bath, we find, near the Museum, a good inn called the HOTEL, at which a coach from Manchester stops every morning at ten; and another from Manchester to Derby and Nottingham calls at noon, daily. Various vehicles go and return from Matlock to Derby three or four times a-week, and at some seasons more frequently. Letters from London to Matlock arrive on the day after being sent, at three in the afternoon; but letters to London from Matlock, do not arrive at the Metropolis until the second day after being expedited.

[Page 20 is continued]

*Transcribed by Ann Andrews in March 2004 from:
"The Panorama of Matlock and Its Environs; With the Tour of the Peak", by H. Barker, Esq. (1827), published by Longman & Co., London. From the copy held at Derby Local Studies Library (ref DLSL 143) and published here with the librarian's very kind permission.
Also very grateful thanks to Jane Steer for generously providing copies and all her help and interest
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