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Matlock: Smedley's Hydro, Grand Dining Room
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Smedley's, early 1900s

There is another photograph in Smedley's brochure

Smedley's brochure, 1939

Drawing room

Smoking room

In the Vernon Lamb Archive:

Chatsworth Hydro: Display for a pre1914-18 war banquet

Smedley staff with celebration cakes

A postcard taken for the hydro, showing the Grand Dining Room before the First World War. It was here that Smedley's would have served its Christmas Banquets over the years. It is difficult to know when these began but in 1888 there was a Banquet for 200 on Christmas Day, following a Ball on the previous evening[1]. A large number of staff were involved in the meal's preparation. For example, in his customary speech at the end of the 1899 Banquet Mr. Challand, the hydro's manager, stated that almost 100 people had been involved that year[2].

The number of people attending the banquets increased with each season. There were covers for 311 at the Christmas night (end of the century) banquet in 1900[3] and 133 in 1901[4]. Their meat was home fed; Mr. Challand said the Hydropathic Company had bought 160 acres in 1900 and presented their own produce[3]. Boar's heads were prepared for these banquets. Benjamin Bryan mentioned one on display in 1901[4] and a local paper reported that "A handsome boar's head, with beautiful piping, stood on an adjoining sideboard, where, too, was shown in tasteful array dressed ham, tongues, and game pie"[5].

The tables would seat 10 and the diners sat on bentwood dining chairs. They were laid with cutlery, napkins, condiments and sauce bottles, tumblers and jugs of water, with a potted plant for decoration. A line of serving spoons can be seen neatly down the middle of each table. At this time neither wine glasses nor wine would have been provided. As Henry Challand proudly commented in 1901, "Smedley's had not tarnished the name of a hydropathic establishment by introducing intoxicants"[4]. However, close examination of the menu below shows that alcohol would almost certainly have been used in some of the sweets.

Close of the century Christmas Day Banquet menu.
25 December 1900.
6.30 p.m.


Clear Turtle; Bisque a la Normande.

Boiled Turbot; Fried Fillets of Sole.

Sweetbreads aux Epinards; Aspic de Foie Gras; Stewed Kidneys and Mushrooms.

Sirloin of beef, saddle of mutton; haunch of venison; roast goose; boiled turkey;
roast chicken; ham; tongue.

Pheasants; partridges.

Plum pudding; Saxony pudding; mince pies; Tipsy cake; Gelec d'Or Liqueur;
Bavaroise a' i'Imperatice; Meringue en Caramel; Glace a la Rothschild.

Stilton; Cheddar.

Pines; grapes, bananas, oranges, etc

This dining hall was part of the second phase of the redevelopment undertaken by the Hydropathic Company in the 1880s and early 1890s and had opened on Christmas Day 1885. The area measured 90 feet by 45 feet. Its roof rested on 28 Corinthian styled pillars, the walls were decorated and stencilled and the wood was American walnut. The room was lit by the embossed plate glass skylight and the ceiling above the columns was made of fibrous plaster. The hall was heated by hot water pipes laid beneath three gratings hidden underneath three long tables. The dining hall's floor was covered with kamptulican, the forerunner of linoleum. An "apartment" was at one end, where 1,000 plates could be warmed; the room's other fittings included the provision of vegetable warmers and heaters so that the meat could be kept warm until it was carved. A la Russe service was provided through inter-connecting windows between the apartment and the dining hall. Mr. Askew of Matlock Bridge was contracted for the stonework, Mr. W. Statham of Matlock Green for the woodwork and the architect was Mr. George E Statham of Nottingham and Matlock. It was decorated by Mr. Kenworthy of Manchester[6].

A new addition to the dining room in 1899 was a minstrel gallery for the orchestra, which "played appropriate airs during the banquet. The orchestra was occupied by Mr J. H. Barnes' well known Matlock band"[7]. Barnes was a local man[3] and he and his band played both at many of Smedley's events and at other local hydropathic establishment parties.

Whilst we know that the Winter Garden had both electric and gas lighting when it was built, the gas lights in the dining room seem to have disappeared by the time this picture was taken and the pretty Art Nouveau lamp shades have light bulbs in them. Nevertheless, it looks as if Smedley's had fed the wires down the existing gas pipes, something that wasn't uncommon.

View Smedley's Christmas and New Year Menus & Programmes:

1926 & 1927
1928 & 1929
1930, 1931, 1932, 1934
1946, 1947, 1948 & 1949

"Grand Dining Room, Smedley's Hydropathic Establishment". No publisher.
Postcard in the collection of and provided by and © Susan Tomlinson.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.

References (coloured links are to transcripts or more information elsewhere on this web site):

[1] "Derbyshire Times", 29 December 1888.

[2] "Derbyshire Times", 27 December 1899.

[3] "Derbyshire Times", 26 December 1900.

[4] Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons, Limited.

[5] "Derbyshire Times", 27 December 1902. The boar's head would have been decorated in a similar fashion to the one at Chatsworth Hydro. See: Display for a pre1914-18 war banquet.

[6] "Derbyshire Times", 2 January 1886.

[7] John Herbert Barnes lived in Matlock Bath: see his entries in the 1871 census | the 1891 census | the 1901 census. His MI.