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Matlock Bath, from the Heights of Abraham, 1866-78
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The Old Bath

New Bath Hotel (6)
(Clifton Road)

The Pavilion on the Hillside, mid 1880s

The Royal Pavilion
- the Palais Royal

The Royal Hotel

An early photograph of the southern part of Matlock Bath, taken from the Heights of Abraham. The eye is almost immediately struck by the criss-cross of paths that extended from the obelisk and the main road down to the Ferry House by the river. The riverside area had not yet been developed into the Derwent Gardens, which places this image firmly in the nineteenth century.

The Old Bath Hotel, described by Ebenezer Rhodes as a spacious building and the village's principal hotel in the 1820s[1], had been replaced by the Royal Hotel. Although construction for the new hotel began in 1866 it was not completed until 1878[2]. I believe this picture was taken somewhere between the initial construction and completion as the landscaping of the hotel's grounds had not been done and the driveway and grounds show no sign of life!

There was little development on Clifton Road, too; the only property that had been built was Clifton House. The land where Portland House, originally called Wint House, was to be built was still a field.

The major building that is missing from the panorama, however, is the old Pavilion, the Royal Pavilion (later the Palais Royal) on the hillside above the Royal Hotel, although we can see the land where it was eventually built. This Pavilion was opened in 1884. In the woodland to the right of the Royal Hotel we can see a small group of houses that were known at Stonnis. These properties also appear on the 1848 tithe map[3]. Following the formation of the Matlock Bath Pavilion & Gardens Company in 1882 Mr. Anthony Boden sold his Stonnis cottages to the company and the houses were demolished[4].

At the top of the hill, where the land flattens, are some of the dwellings and farm buildings in Upper Wood. Next to them is a field that was known as Gent Close[3], but in the twentieth century it became both the sports field for Matlock Bath School and Matlock Bath's Cricket Club's ground.

Enlargement of a section of the top photograph.

More views from the Heights of Abraham:

19th century

the Heights

the Heights
about 1914


After WW2

Cat Tor, 1913

Modern times


1. and 2. Original photograph in the collection of and provided by and © Ken Smith.
Image scanned for this website and information written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Rhodes, E. (1824) "Peak Scenery" pub. London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, Paternoster Row.

[2] The Royal Hotel discusses the reasons for the delay in opening the hotel. Compare.

[3] See the 1848 Tithe Map, Derbyshire Record Office.

[4] The properties at Stonnis Wood in Matlock Bath can be found in the 1851 census. They are mentioned in Holmes Hand Book, 1866 (look in the Romantic Rocks, or Dungeon Tors section. William Smedley also gave his address at Stonnis in Kelly's 1876 Directory.