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Visitors to Matlock Bath - Queen Mary, 1913
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Smith's Royal Museum

In December 1913 King George V and his wife, Queen Mary, visited the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire at Chatsworth House. On Wednesday 10th December the Queen was to visit the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary[1]. The route chosen for the Royal party passed through through Beeley, Rowsley, Whitworth Institute [Darley Dale], Matlock Bridge, Matlock Bath, Cromford, Ambergate, Belper, Milford and Duffield. The Duchess of Devonshire accompanied the Queen in the first car, a second vehicle carried Lord Charles Fitzmaurice and Mr. Manners Sutton, whilst the Chief Constable (Captain Holland) was at the rear in a third car[2]. At both Matlock and Matlock Bath the buildings were decorated with flags and crowds assembled to cheer as the Queen passed by.

As the royal party approached Matlock's Crown Square there was a Royal Salute from the Smarts quarries, representing twenty-one guns[3]. In Matlock Bath her car was photographed as it passed the Kursaal or Grand Pavilion. Not only was the Pavilion festooned with garlands but there were also two large banners, proclaiming "Grand Pavilion" and "World Famed Matlock Bath". The banner across the road is harder to read, but says "Welcome ---".

The Queen was to accept, as a souvenir of her visit, a rare Blue John vase of local workmanship from the inhabitants of Matlock Bath. One report claimed it had been specially made for her by Samuel Smith of Smith's Royal Museum, but it was a vase that Mr. Smith had already made. A committee of councillors, the Improvements Association and private residents went to the shop to choose it. They were then driven to Chatsworth to present the gift in a car loaned by Guy le Blanc Smith; the urgency was because Her Majesty was to leave the following morning. They met both the Queen's Lady in Waiting and the Duke of Devonshire[4].

The "vase" presented to the Queen was a tazza[4], which is a wide, shallow saucer-like dish that is either mounted on both a stem and foot or on just a foot. It was "about eight inches high and about six inches high, the rim of it being an almost uniform hand of the rich violet crystal seen in the finest examples of the stone"[4].

The Queen's lady in waiting, Lady Mary Trefusis, subsequently wrote the following note to Mr. Key: "I write to assure you of the great pleasure with which Her Majesty accepts the beautiful vase of Blue John which you and two other members of the deputation kindly brought here [to Chatsworth]. Please express to the inhabitants of Matlock Bath the Queen's thanks for their kind thought in offering so charming a gift"[5].

Blue John gift
The card reads:
Presented to
Her Majesty The Queen
as a Souvenir of her visit
December 10th 1913

Top photograph, by T. M. Henshall, in the collection of and provided by and © Glynn Waite.
Photograph of the Blue John Vase, also by T. M. Henshall, in the collection of and provided by and © Kenneth Smith.
Written and researched by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "The Times", 5 Dec, 1913. Royal Visit.

[2] "Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser", 11 December 1913.

[3] "The Times", 11 Dec, 1913.

[4] "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal", 19 December 1913. Matlock Bath's Gift to the Queen.

[5] "Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser", 15 December 1913.