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Matlock Dale : High Tor & Artists' Corner (3)
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High Torr, 1751


Chantrey's drawing, 1822

High Tor

Tor Cottage / House, later a Guest House

Matlock Modern School

In 1900 the geologist A. T. Metcalfe, F.G.S. wrote a short article entitled "The Making of Derbyshire Scenery":

"In Derbyshire we frequently find rivers behaving in what at first sight seems a most eccentric manner. They seem to have gone out of their way to discover and encounter difficulties and have deliberately chosen to cut through hard rocks, when it was open to them to cut a channel through soft strata. Take, for instance, the course of the Derwent near Matlock. This river flows from Rowsley in a broad, open valley of Yoredale shales. About a mile from Matlock Bath it leaves these soft shales, and has cut a deep and comparatively narrow gorge through the carboniferous limestone, giving us the beautiful scenery of the "Vale" between the High Tor and Masson. Near Cromford the river quits the limestones and again enters the Yoredale shales. It is recorded that originally the gorge where the river enters the limestone was only just broad enough to admit the river, and that it had to be widened by blasting when the highway was made along the valley"[1]. Metcalfe was referring to the road that was cut through at Scarthin Nick.

Of all the limestone crags that border the east bank of the river as it runs through Matlock Bath, High Tor is both the highest and the most famous[2]. This picture was taken before 1893 and shows us a very quiet dale, without a tourist in site. Tor Cottage had become Tor House by this time.

This enlargement of Tor House includes the three storey workshop building, later
converted into Ruskin Hall[3] when Matlock Garden School (later called Matlock Modern School) was here.
Ruskin Hall is now Grade II listed.

"High Tor, Matlock". Frith's Series, F. Frith & Co. Ltd, Reigate, No.31286. No date, but published before 1893. Unused.
Postcard in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Written, researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "Nottinghamshire Guardian", 13 October 1900. The Making of Derbyshire Scenery.

[2] High Tor is shown on Ordnance Survey maps as being a little over 600 feet above sea level whereas Cat Tor, which is at its highest on the opposite side of the riverbank from Clifton Road is 500 feet above sea level.

[3] There is no evidence that the nineteenth century art critic and patron of the arts John Ruskin, who the hall was named after, ever visited this house. However, in the mid nineteenth century he paid regular visits to Matlock Bath.