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Matlock Dale: High Tor and High Tor Hotel, 1950s
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This view of High Tor and Matlock Dale was photographed from near St. John's Chapel. It was possibly taken at bank holiday time because there were quite a number of people walking along, presumably admiring the scenery. However, the road wasn't exactly congested!

The imposing building below the Tor was known as the High Tor Private Hotel at the time the picture was taken[1] (see the advertisement below), although has since changed its name. In the nineteenth century it was called Tor Cottage and was a private residence. The very first sale notice was in printed in 1831 and announced that "this elegant residence has been erected within the last three years[2]".

Four years later in 1835, so some one hundred and twenty years before this picture was taken, visitors to the Dale enjoyed a delightful surprise:

"We had one of the greatest treats in a pyrotechnic way that we remember to have experienced for some time on Wednesday evening last, at Matlock. The means we were told were extremely simple, but the effect produced was certainly most singular. Most persons have seen or heard of a majestic rock at Matlock, known by the name of the High Tor, and this bold crag was illuminated on the above evening by means of immense masses of light being thrown upon it from the hill on the opposite side of the valley. As we casually passed through the romantic dale of Matlock, without any previous intimation of what was about to take place, the scene to us appeared perfectly magical. On arriving at a gothic cottage near the bridge we were (as strangers) politely invited to view the imposing scene from its terrace, and were further gratified by the performances of a fine band of brass instruments, and the excellent singing and playing of "Matlock's mysterious guest," "Leader, the wandering minstrel." We quitted the Torr Cottage with a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure with regard to the amusements afforded, as well as to the urbanity and kindness of its public spirited proprietor[3]".

Advertisement for High Tor Private Hotel

1968 Advertisement for the High Tor Private Hotel, then run by Mr. and Mrs. A. Goodwyn

Photograph in the collection of and provided by and © Bernard Gale.
Written and researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only


[1] Colin Goodwyn believes the photograph dates from the mid 1950s when the Grants were still running the guest house because two trees, formerly on the drive, have gone but the tulip tree hasn't been cut back and the new streetlights haven't arrived.

[2] "The Derby Mercury", Wednesday, 27 July, 1831. Sale of Torr Cottage by Edward Payne.

[3] "The Derby Mercury", Wednesday, 26 August, 1835. The article was written anonymously by "a Correspondent of the Derbyshire Courier".