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Artists' Corner 1920s

In 1933 the High Tor Guest House was said to be one of the new centres being used by the Youth Hostel Association[1] and when it first opened as such Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Barton, of London, were appointed resident wardens[2]. The myth that the house had been built by Admiral Lord Collingwood also stems from this time[2] and took years to disprove[3]. Two years later, in early 1935, the "Derbyshire Times" issued an apology, stating that the High Tor Guest House had been "regrettably described in error as a youth hostel" in the previous issue, adding that it had no association with the hostel movement and, "with its spacious grounds, plays an important part in the social life of Matlock"[4]. Make of all of that what you will.

The Grants began running the Guest House in 1933 and before the Second World War it was used for a variety of events, including as a holiday centre by the Derby Branch of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, hosting a weekend conference of the West Derbyshire Labour Party and a two day school for music leaders in choral work[5]. The property was still owned by Mr. and Mrs. Law at this time[6]. It is not clear whether Mr. and Mrs. Barton were ever really running the property, or perhaps worked alongside the Grants for a time, or whether their association with it (if any) was very brief[6]. They were not in residence in 1939[7].

In January 1939 the 14-feet high retaining wall in front of the building collapsed causing tons of rock, stone and earth to fall into the road and single-line traffic had to be introduced. Snow and frost were thought to be the cause of the collapse[8]. It was rebuilt by Derbyshire County Council[6]. The fencing on top of the wall dates from the Council rebuild. In the foreground, and on the right, is the suspension bridge over the Derwent.

The original railings can be seen in a stereo view card of High Tor elsewhere on this site.

"High Tor Guest House, Matlock". No publisher. Not posted.
Postcard in the collection of © Ann Andrews.
Written and researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only

References (coloured hyperlinks are to transcripts elsewhere on this website):

[1] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 5 May 1933. The County Hostels. The article's author, who was testing out various hostels, "took over the role of cook, this time with the aid of gas" when he or she visited the High Tor Guest House.

[2] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 25 January 1933. New Youth Hostel in Derbyshire. "While there is no record of Lord Collingwood residing there, it is known that members of his family were in residence for many years". This may have been a genuine misunderstanding but seems to have been the beginning of the false claim about Admiral Collingwood's descendants living at the High Tor Guest house and was reprinted in a number of regional newspapers.

[3] See Matlock : High Tor Guest House, 1945-50, which shows who built the property and who lived there. Whilst a gentleman called Henry Salkeld James Collingwood bought the property not long after it had been built, he was not related to Lord Cuthbert Collingwood.

[4] "Derbyshire Times", 4 January 1935. Merrymaking at Matlock Guest House (a fancy dress parade had been held there the previous week). Apology issued.

[5] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 29 March 1935, 28 January 1936 and 5 June 1937 respectively.

[6] Goodwyn, Colin (1998) "The History of Tor Cottage Matlock Dale", a privately published limited edition. Also see Matlock Modern School: Monthly Letter, March, 1935.

[7] The 1939 Register shows Hubert E Grant as the Guest House Proprietor and his wife Maud E Grant was the housekeeper. There were ten in the household, four of whom were guests rather than permanent residents. There was no sign of the Bartons. A number of W. H. Bartons were in London, none of whom were associated with the youth hostel movement. Mr. Grant passed away in 1958.

[8] "Derby Daily Telegraph", 28 January 1939.