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In Via Gellia, Matlock Bath, 1903
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Via Gellia, shown on
Firth's 1908 map

This is such an attractive view of the Via Gellia. Little wonder the visitors flocked to see the scenery, whether on foot, by bicycle or by cab. Perhaps the horse drawn vehicle was carrying some visitors on one of the excursions available from Matlock Bath. The words of Ebenezer Rhodes, written some eighty years before, really sum up the scene: "A small clear brook babbled along by the road side, and the scene was altogether eminently beautiful. This little dell terminated at Grange Mill"[1].

At this point there was more than a brook. William Adam, writing a few years after Rhodes, was equally impressed by Via Gellia and describes this view of the valley. "Up this bold part there is just sufficient breadth in most places for the road and narrow channel of the mountain-stream, which, throughout Bonsall-hollow especially is artificially dammed up to make fine sheets of water, as preserves for fish. The stream breaking over these has a beautiful effect, and adorned and mantled on each side by wood and rock, and the tangled copse and swelling mountain cannot fail to interest the stranger"[2].

In 1846 Mr. Greaves, of the Matlock Bath's Old Bath Royal Hotel and Bakewell's Rutland Arms, paid for fishing and shooting rights in the Via Gellia. The stream flowing through the valley was said to abound with trout of an unusually large size. The wooded "banks shelter a profusion of rabbits and pheasants, and woodcocks are by no means scarce"[3].

The dams are now dried up and overgrown[4]. The picture was taken just below Slinter Cottage, which has a pond; Slinter Rock is on the right and on the left, out of view, is Ball Eye Quarry[4]. The Arkwright Society has been actively involved in conservation work at Slinter[5].

A local guide book from 1932 describes the Via Gellia:
"The Via Gellia
is the Latinized name of a drive made by the late Mr. Philip Gell, of Hopton Hall, Wirksworth, along the beautiful ravine opening out on to the west of the road between Cromford and Bonsall. The highway passes through a picturesque valley with well-wooded and steeply sloping sides. In it the lily of the valley used to grow in profusion, and it is still to be found in fair abundance, in spite of the ravages of unthinking visitors. Nowhere in England, except the more secluded region of Woodhall Spa, in Lincolnshire, is this graceful flower so common. The coppice on the north side of the stream in the dell through which the Via Gellia runs is known as Bonsall Wood ; that on the other side is Middleton Wood"[6].

Read a poem about the Via Gellia

Via Gellia is mentioned in the following on-site transcripts:

Davies' book - Davies, David Peter (1811) "History of Derbyshire" pub. S. Mason, Belper which describes what was then the new road through the Via Gellia and notes what was found when it was built.
Read the transcript elsewhere on this web site (look under Hopton).

- Hall's guide "Days in Derbyshire", 1863, Chapter the Sixth. Via Gellia, Stonnus, and Fox Cloud.

The lily of the valley flowers are mentioned in two other nineteenth century "Guides" :
- Holmes Hand Book to Matlock Bath & Neighbourhood (at the bottom of the section on The Heights of Abraham and Masson).
- Crostons "On Foot Through the Peak", 1868 - "sweet lily of the valley" (see the paragraphs about the Heights of Abraham).

There is also more on site information about Bonsall on this website:
The Andrews Pages : Picture Gallery, Derbyshire has several photographs and old cards
Kelly's Directory, 1891 - transcript of Bonsall entry

"In Via Gellia, Matlock Bath". Stengel & Co. Ltd., London E. C. 39 Redcross Street. No. 16033 Written 29 Nov 1903 to Miss Jennie Griffiths, Upton Park, Chester Posted the same day.
The message read "We are having a lovely day here, just going to have a - - [message unfinished] J.R.C."
In the collection of and provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Rhodes, Ebenezer (1824) "Peak Scenery" pub. London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, Paternoster Row. Also see the map from Rhodes' book, which is another part of this web site. Via Gellia isn't shown on the map, but it was included in one of his journeys.

[2] Adam, William (1840) "The Gem of the Peak", London; Longman & Co., Paternoster Row. Some of the Matlock and Matlock Bath section has been transcribed.

[3] "Derbyshire Courier", 28 February 1846.

[4] With very grateful thanks to Ronald Wood for his help identifying the exact spot this picture was taken from.

[5] See About the Arkwright Society, which lists a number of the Arkwright Society's restoration projects, including Slinter Woods (it is an external link, so will open in a new window or tab).

[6] Ward Lock & Co's "Matlock, Dovedale, Bakewell and South Derbyshire", Illustrated Guide Books of England and Wales, 11th edit. rev. (1932-3).