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Matlock: St. Giles' Church and Green, 1914
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The picture would have been taken shortly before of during the first few months of the First World War. On the left is the Wheatsheaf, at that time lived in by Thomas Anthony Walton and his family; Mr. Walton was a farmer and cab proprietor[1].

Matlock Town's old sycamore tree[2], that had stood outside the church for a long time, was by this time just a broken and rotting stump. All kinds of events had been celebrated on the green beneath its boughs[3].

These days another mature tree is in the same spot, surrounded by the same low circular stone wall at the base of the tree seen here. The replacement, an oak, was planted in 1924 following the eventual removal of the unsightly stump. F. D. Baxter, the Council's Chairman, did the honours; his spadework was watched by most of the Council and some local people. The new tree, from the Stancliffe estate, was already said to be over 30 years old when it was planted[4].

Plaque commemorating the tree planting on the low wall around its base.

There are several people in the top image. On the Green itself, by the lamp post, is someone touching the stones though he or she is not working on them. Also on the Green but close to the tree stump is a man in a trilby hat and, near him, there is what is possibly a sack or a box on the wall. Leaning over the wall next to the road is a group of three men, the closest of whom is peering down at something behind the wall; a jacket or coat has been draped over the wall a yard or so to their right. They could all be working on the removal of the tree stump or just carrying out routine maintenance. Last but not least there is a small child at the bottom of the path leading up to the church.

new tree today, now of full size
The replacement tree, almost 100 years later. It towers over the church and hides it from view.

Famous Derbyshire Health Resorts. The Matlocks, about 1892 - Part 1 mentions the church, the tree and the events held underneath.

View even more about the church by clicking on the images below:


1. "Green and Church, Matlock", Valentine's Series, No. 79653, British Manufacture. Not posted, but registered in 1914.
Message on back to "Willie" - "As promised I am sending you a church ... I think I shall retire, & take a little cottage up this way"
Postcard in the collection of and provided by and © Ann Andrews.
2. and 3. Photographs taken in May 2022 © Grenville Smith.
Written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] There are several references to Thomas Walton living at the Wheatsheaf. For example: 1881 census | 1891 census | 1901 census | Kelly's 1908 Directory | 1911 census | Kelly's 1916 Directory. In the 1850s his father had been a stone mason, living on the Bank, but Thomas always seems to have lived at the former inn.

[2] The species of tree varies in different accounts. Some say it was a lime, other sources believe it was an oak tree and I have also found a reference to it being a sycamore.

[3] Matlock, Riber & Starkholmes Newspaper Cuttings, 1855, describes a celebration following the fall of Sebastopol here and a large table under the tree.

[4] "Derbyshire Times", 9 February 1924. Matlock Council Chairman Plants Oak Tree. The replacement was brought to the little green by Messrs. Ballington and Co.