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Cumming's Old Bath Hotel, Matlock Bath
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Old Bath 1776



1779



1806



Matlock Bath from the Temple House, 1810



The Royal Hotel



A card advertising Cumming's Old Bath Hotel, dating from the 1840's. The hotel was on what is today Temple Road. Interestingly, the obelisk at the junction with the main road seems to indicate that it was at the entrance to the hotel's drive. This was where the likes of Lord Byron and Walter Scott stayed when they visited Matlock Bath to take the waters. The card was found in old family documents. David Bates, whose card this is, says that "the note on the card must have been written by my father's father or one of my grandfather's first cousins". The card dates from between 1840, when the station opened at Ambergate, and 1842, when Mrs. Cumming died. The conveyances on offer include a Phæton, a light four wheeled open carriage that is usually drawn by a pair of horses[1].

Richard Ward described the Old Bath in his "Guide"[2] of 1814:
"A few hundred yards further northwards [from the New Bath and Mr. Walker's lodging house] the other Principal Hotel, called the Old Bath, kept by Mrs. Cumming; this house is of great extent, affording convenient accommodation to about one hundred persons. Besides a copious spring and a hot as well as a cold bath, here is a large assembly room; and during the season, which begins in spring and continues till November, assemblies are held in it, chiefly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. A billiard table is kept both here and at the New Bath. There is likewise in the front of this house a level green and promenade of considerable extent, commanding a very interesting view, not only of the opposite rocks, the great ornament of Matlock [Bath], but also of a bold and high hill which advancing from the western mountainous country towards the river, seems here to shut out the valley".

Another writer, known as Henricus was equally enthusiastic about the hotel in 1838:[3]
"THE OLD BATH,
Conducted by Mrs. Cumming, is decidedly the First Hotel and Posting House in the place ; its accommodations are ample, the establishment extensive, and, during the season, is the resort of the first families of distinction who visit Matlock Bath. The situation is exceedingly delightful, and cannot fail to command admiration. It stands on a gentle slope on the western side of the vale, in the front of which is a very fine terrace, from whence some charming views of scenery may be obtained ; the bold and craggy cliffs - the wood crowned Heights of Abraham - the venerable High Tor, and the many graceful windings of the Derwent are here seen to great advantage. Hard and callous indeed must be that heart which can remain unmoved ay this more than lovely scene ! It is truly grand and imposing ; the beauties of Matlock burst upon an astonishing sight..."

Sir George Head had stayed at the Old Bath three years before, in 1835, when there was "no other company in the house. I was ushered into the public room, a large and rambling apartment of which the floor was so rickety, that at one part especially there appeared to be [a] serious chance of falling into the cellar. The furniture looked ancient and uncomfortable; a huge screen of faded moreen, a small jingling pianoforte, and for the accommodation of a single individual, no less that thirty-seven ill fashioned chairs. My bedroom, of which there were a score similar, in the same corridor, was no bigger than the state-room of a ship". ... Every window pane in this public room was inscribed with people's names, couplets in verse and moral sentiments! At least he was honest and, like everyone else, he enjoyed the scenery: "there are few spots in England, or elsewhere, more romantically grand that the lofty ridge of rock which rises above the ridge on Matlock"[4]. Nevertheless, those who love the Bath were incensed by his words and he seems to have been widely criticised[5].

The Old Bath, later the Royal Old Bath Hotel, was eventually demolished and replaced by the Royal Hotel.


There is more on site information about the Cumming family:
Matlock Biographies: see Cumming
Matlock & Matlock Bath Public Notices & Announcements, 1820 and 1860
Gem of the Peak (1840)
Newspaper Cuttings
See J N Cumming's name in Nineteenth Century - Game Duty Lists
Brewer's Derby Directory, 1823
Taverns & Pubs, 3 early trade directory extracts
Pigot's Directory, 1842
Pre 1858 Wills & Administrations in various UK archives, Surnames C
Matlock & Matlock Bath Names in the London Gazette See William John Cumming in 1843 and Alice Ann Cumming in 1853. The Old Bath was a venue for property sales in the 18th century and a place where officials met in the 19th century. It was sold in 1857 and in 1869 the Hydropathic Company was wound up.

Read a poem from the Old Bath's Arrival Book on Matlock and Matlock Bath: Inspiration of Poets

There is more about the opening up of the railway
Matlock Bath Station and High Tor

Lists Through the Centuries: Arrivals at Matlock Bath, 1820-1850. European Royal families and nobility, British politicians, academics, clergy, members of the British aristocracy and upper and middle classes of society. Some of them would have stayed at the Old Bath.


Image and information supplied by and Copyright © of David L Bates from his personal collection.
If you are interested in this family, please contact the web mistress, who will pass on the query.
Written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References:

[1] Ambergate station is about 6 miles from Matlock. William Adam referred to it as "Ambergate or Matlock Station" before the line was extended to Matlock Bath. Whilst "an Omnibus and other conveyances" were waiting outside the station there, it is perhaps noteworthy that Mrs. Cumming advertised the Hotel's own transport to potential guests. (Ambergate information extracted from Adam, W. (1845) "The Gem of the Peak; or Matlock Bath and Its Vicinity. ..." London; Longman & Co., Paternoster Row ; ... Mawe, Royal Museum, Matlock).

[2] Ward, Reverend Richard (1814) "The Matlock, Buxton and Castleton Guide, containing concise accounts of these and other remarkable places ... in the ... County of Derby", Derby.

[3] Henricus (1838) "The Matlock Tourist". Extracts from the 1843 version are elsewhere on this site.

[4] Head, Sir George (1836) "A Home Tour Through the Manufacturing Districts of England, in the Summer of 1835". London: John Murray, Albemarle-Street.

[5] William Adam, author of "Gem of the Peak" (above), was one of those who were offended. He felt that Head had missed the point; many of the visitors liked the hotel's ambience and found it relaxing.