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Matlock & Matlock Bath: Inspiration of Poets
A good deal of poetry has been created because of Matlock Bath and its natural environment
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"I have never seen anywhere else such exquisite scenery as surrounds this village of Matlock."
Nathaniel Hawthorne[1]

Poetry included on this page was written by ...

Poetry to be found elsewhere within the web site (return here by clicking the "Back" arrow on the toolbar)

John Allen (1794-1867)

The poem below, describing the valley of Matlock Bath, is from a book of verse that he wrote in 1848[2]:

"Mountains lower

Abrupt ; and rocks - rent, rugged, frowning - throw
Their morning shadows o'er the stream below,
Stern giants ! from the sloping glade ascending,
They guard the dale - strength, age, and beauty blending,
In winding course the river frets their base,
Adventurous trees their giddy summits grace ;
Up their grey forms - pale Ruin's wreath and Time's
Old crown of wine and worth - the ivy climbs,
And richest foliage, like a living soul,
Clings to their sides and feeds on breasts of stone."


The Study, Bonsall
, where John Allen ran his school before moving to Matlock Bath.

Matlock Bath home after retirement

Read more of John Allen's poetry, published in
Holmes Handbook, 1866
Hall's Days in Derbyshire, Chapter 4 - scroll down the page.

His MI at Holy Trinity
Burial at Holy Trinity Church

Anon (but Band of Hope Member)

The "Matlock Waters."[3] *New*

A Recitation by a Member of the Matlock Band of Hope.

'Tis of the "MATLOCK WATERS" I am to speak today–
The "River" and the healing "Springs" that flow along the way;
Not of the "fire water", that the public-houses sell–
For no good thing of that has man or boy to tell.
That liquid of the "vaults" is kept in glass and wood,
And has done this place much mischief, but never any good.
Give me the sparkling waters that from the mountain flow,
Glittering in the sunbeams, and pure as crystal snow.

Our MATLOCK has a river, which everyone must know
Has not its match in England, however far you go:
A river nursed by mountains, and fed by verdant showers–
With banks of moss and ferns, and a paradise of flowers.

In former days, the "springs," when used, were often found
To cure the sick, weak people and make them strong and sound.
You may try the waters now, And prove that this is true,
And, if you are a drinking slave, the waters will cure YOU.

Drink only of the water that springs in MATLOCK VALE,
And you may then be happy, and never need bewail;
The water is refreshing and good for food and health;
And ought to be the means of increasing MATLOCK's wealth.

The waters of the river first turned the MASSON MILL
With its gainful revolutions, that never need stand still;
And if the Matlock people would only "water" drink",
It would be a source of profit more than many people think.

Stick then unto the "water," and from all else abstain-
That would destroy your happiness, or poison blood or brain.
If all will drink the "water"– so pure, and good, and bright–
It would banish many a sorrow, and set our "MATLOCK" right.

If this you all will do, you will very soon appear
With faces bright and happy, and minds quite strong and clear;
Dash poisons from your lips, and live on wholesome fare,
And praise the MATLOCK waters, and its unrivalled air.

Why do I love the "water", and speak its ardent praise?
Because I am a temperance boy in these my early days,–
For I find the water drinkers do best for children care,
And for the school and church have always cash to spare.

And I know in God's great heaven, they have only water there,
And that only for the water the happy angels care;
And standing by Heaven's river, I shall forever think
That "water," in this world, is THE BEST AND SAFEST DRINK".


There were a number of Temperance Hotels in the Matlocks And a number of hydros were alcohol free.

John Smedley's New Venture - An Alcohol Free Zone! (part of Water Cures)

1903 adverts for the Trevelyan and Derwent Temperance Hotels in Matlock

Matlock Bath's Peveril Hotel

Eliza, 1811


What lively scenes arrest th' enquiring Eye,
Deep in the Vale where Matlock's Beauties lie,
Where'er my gaze I turn, where'er I stray,
A now born Landscape rushes on the day;
The flowering Meadows, here in their sweets disclose,
And thro' the Vale the winding Derwent flows ;
The craggy precipice o'erhung with Wood,
That views its trembling Image in the flood ;
The naked hill that lifts its head on high,
And proudly towering midway meets the sky.
Here Springs medicinal pursue their course,
Which rob the wan consumption of his force ;
Here rosy Health displays her healing pow'r,
Breathes in the Gale, And freshens in the Show'r ;
Here Nature scorns t' exhaust her bounteous store,
Nor Taste, Art, Science, Beauty, cou'd do more.

August 12th, 1811.         ELIZA

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61)

The poem below was written when Elizabeth Barrett was visiting Matlock Bath in 1814; she was only 8 years old. It is from "Hitherto Unpublished Poems and an Inedited Autobiography", ed. H. Buxton Forman (Boston: The Bibliophile Society 1914), vol. 1, pp. 46-47. The poem has been very kindly sent to me by Sandy Donaldson and is published here with her very kind permission.

27. On Visiting Matlock - Derbyshire

The carriage stops - the neat and smiling Inn,

The works of Man we leave - Gods works to win.

Now then up shaggy hills we climb

To get to Natures cavern, grand and fine,

This scene is Natures work, these trees are hers,

These oaks, these elms, these yews, these firs. -

Now to her Palace, swiftly draw we near,

Which ever must inspire great awe and fear;

Where shaggy rocks are opening to our view,

Her jewels sparkle o'er, with wat'ry dew, 10

Now burning tapers in each hand is [sic] put,

To light the way, to guide the weary foot,

Down the abyss o'er rugged path we stray,

And steps descending reach the wat'ry way,

Here heedless Ba, with magic wonder struck, 15

With eyes upraised, she gave her foot a duck.

The cavern dark, Papas laugh resounded,

Mama's, Bro's, Addles,' all loud rebounded;

Vast chambers now expanding to our sight,

Glittering in various gems, of spar so bright, 20

The massive rocks upon an angle rest,

Nature bears all these wonders in her breast,

Now then advancing to the morning sun,

We quit this shadowy cave with vapours hung,

And joy to see the beauteous glowing day, 25

The rocks, woods, waters, all in bright array,

Then running, tumbling down the hill,

New wonders rise, our thoughts to fill,

Papa so ever kind, our joys to swell,

Led us to see the petrifying well,

Where heads, wigs, baskets, eggs, lie on the ground

Soon turned to stone, in dropping waters drowned.

Farewell, farewell, ye scenes of joy so sweet,

All other joys lie humbly at thy feet.

Date: 11 June 1814, Carlton, given with title.

Source: Berg Poems, ff. 17-17v.

Publication: HUP 1:46-47.


Museum Parade, Old Bath Terrace & the Heights, 1840

This was how the village looked 26 years after Elizabeth Barrett and her family visited Matlock Bath.

Matlock Bath: Great Rutland Cavern, Old Oak Tree and Roman Staircase
, believed to have been the cavern visited by the Barrett family and Ba the dog.

The Great Petrifying Well

Eight year old Elizabeth was entranced by her visit to the petrifying well, though it may not have been this one. She may have visited Mr. Pearson's "Royal Well", the well Princess Victoria visited in 1832 which was "on the roadside, just under the way leading to the Old Bath"[5].

Magic Lantern Slides and Vista Screen views has some interior shots of the Great Rutland Cavern which it is believed that Elizabeth Barrett Browning visited

John Betjeman (1906-84)

Matlock Bath[6]

From Matlock Bath's half-timbered station
I see the black dissenting spire-,
Thin witness of a congregation,
Stone emblem of a Handel choir;
In blest Bethesda's limpid pool,
Comes treacling out of Sunday School.

By cool Siloam's shady rill--
The sounds are sweet as strawberry jam:
I raise mine eyes unto the hill,
The beetling Heights of Abraham;
The branchy trees are white with rime
In Matlock Bath this winter-time.

And from the whiteness, grey uprearing,
Huge cliffs hang sunless ere they fall,
A tossed and stoney ocean nearing
The moment to o'erwhelm us all:
Eternal Father, strong to save,
How long wilt thou suspend the wave?

How long before the pleasant acres,
Of intersecting Lovers' Walks
Are rolled across by limestone breakers,
Whole woodlands snapp'd like cabbage stalks?
O God, our help in ages past,
How long will Speedwell Cavern last?

In this dark dale I hear the thunder
Of houses folding with the shocks,
The Grand Pavilion buckling under
The weight of the Romantic Rocks,
The hardest Blue John ash-trays seem
To melt away in thermal steam.

Deep in their Nonconformist setting
The shivering children wait their doom--
The father's whip, the mother's petting
In many a coffee-coloured room;
And attic bedrooms shriek with fright,
For dread of Pilgrims of the Night.

Perhaps it's this that makes me shiver
As I ascend the slippery path
High, high above the sliding river
And terraces of Matlock Bath;
A sense of doom, a drear to see
The Rock of Ages cleft for me.


Matlock Bath Station and High Tor
, described by Betjeman as "half-timbered".

Matlock Bath: Lovers' Walks.
The first of several pages about the Walks.

Matlock Bath: The Dungeon Tors or Romantic Rocks.

Matlock Bath: Upper Wood
The Speedwell Cavern, mentioned by Betjeman, was in Upper Wood.

A verse from this poem is elsewhere on this site:
Stone Quarrying. The page also discusses what perhaps prompted Betjeman's verses.

There are several images of the Wesleyan church/chapel on North Parade that Betjeman mentions:
There is a description on the Churches page - and you can see the spire

W. B. of Matlock Bath

Shortly before the Coronation of Edward VII in 1902 the District Council of March, a Fenland market town, contacted the Town Surveyor, Mr. Jaffrey, the Town Surveyor, to sk whether it was possible to have the hearts of the oxen they were to roast on Coronation Day petrified for retention as a lasting memorial of the great event!
The poet, W.B., was probably William Bryan[7]. *New*

Our "petrifying wells" are of world-wide renown.
And a source of great wonder to folk who come down
From all parts of the globe to view the attraction
Of water converting to stone by its action.

Such things as old hats, birds' nests, and old shoes,
Will resist not the water's deposit of ooze,
But to petrify "hearts" of poor oxen, I vow
It is not to be done, or if 'tis, tell me how

For if you subject to the action of water
The "heart of an ox," you know - or you ough 'ter
That instead of acquiring a petrified state
Putrefaction would be that poor heart's luckless fate.

But this local savant has a "card up his sleeve,"
(So, at least, by his note we are led to believe)
How to petrify "Hearts", and a "fortune" thus make,
If this is not so, well, that note "takes the cake."

W. B.
Matlock Bath, June 16th, 1902.


Matlock Bath: Petrifying Well Stereoview (19th century)

Matlock Bath: The Royal Museum Petrifying Well

Matlock Bath: The Great Petrifying Well

A. C.

February 15th 1882.


Enchanting ground ! magnificent and rare !
For God's own temple, and your house of prayer :
Where, on the mountain. RIBER CASTLE smiles,
And in the valley stands the old "ST. GILES,"
From MASSON'S heights, across to CUCKOO-STONE,
Beauty Supreme holds all the vale its own ;
And what a vale is this that spreads below,
Where DERWENT'S rapid silvery waters flow,
And the romantic railroad winds its way
Midst stately rocks and lofty mountains grey!

Enchantment binds my feet as round I gaze,-
Where rocks all worship and where mountains praise ;
Where crowds of pilgrim feet have often trod,
And souls joined nature in adoring GOD ;
Where birds and bees their sweetest anthems bring
And flowers breathe insense as the trees all sing :
Lo ! this is "holy Ground" for "GOD IS HERE,"
And makes His presence in His works appear,
And as our souls in rapture rise on high
They meet the angels coming from the sky.

For at this "BETHEL" angels pause to tell
GOD'S praying people they have wrestled well ;
They bring this message from the worlds above -
"MERCY" is GOD'S sweet work - His nature love.
Bring then MEMORIAL STONES, and rear them high,
And let your temple fane point to the sky ;
Your zeal, your love, your treasures all bestow,
That GOD'S great work at MATLOCK now may grow,
Let your BUILDING to the world proclaim
Your zeal for God - your honour for HIS NAME.

Bolehill.         A. C.


Matlock Wesleyan Methodist Church, 1879

Matlock Wesleyan Methodist Church, 1906

The new spire

Trinity Methodist Chapel Fayre
A fund raising event in the 1950s.

Churches & Chapels in the Matlocks

Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802)

" Where as proud Masson rises rude and bleak,
And with misshapen turrets crests the Peak,
Old Matlock gapes with marble jaws, beneath,
And o'er scared Derwent bends his flinty teeth;
Deep in wide caves below the dangerous soil
Blue sulphurs flame, imprisoned waters boil;
Impetuous streams in spiral columns rise
Through rifled rocks, impatient for the skies."

Loves of the Plants (Canto IV. v. 175 seq.)
More lines from this poem can be found on the title page of Henry Moore's 1818 guide.
And read his Botanic Garden on pp.25-26 of the same guide book (bottom of the page).

"So Arkwright taught from Cotton-pods to cull
And stretch in lines the vegetable wool ;
With teeth of steel its fibre-knots unfurl'd,
And with the silver tissue clothed the world."

The Temple of Nature; or, the Origin of Society (Canto IV. Of Good and Evil, lines 261-4).

3. [About Masson Mill][9]
"So now where Derwent guides his dusky flood
Through Vaulted Mountains and a night of wood
The nymph, Gossypia,§ treads the velvet sod
And warms with rosy smiles the wat'ry god
His pondrous oars to slender spindles turns,
And pours o'er mossy wheels his foaming urns
With playful charms her hoary lover wins
And wheels his trident - while the monarch spins.
First with nice eye emerging Naiads cull
From leathery pods† the vegetable wool ;
With wiry teeth the revolving cards release
The tangled knots and smooth the ravell'd fleece ;
Next moves the iron hand with fingers fine,
Combs the wide card, and FORMS THE ETERNAL LINE;
Slow with soft lips, the whirling can* acquires
The tender skeins, and wraps in rising spires ;
With quickening pace successive rollers move,
And these retain, and those extend the rove,
Then fly the spoles the rapid axles glow
While slowly circumvalves the labouring wheel below".

§ From the name of the cotton plants, Gossypium.
† Quantities of the pods or pericarps of the raw Cotton, very like leather, of a brown colour and shrivelled, occur in the bales.
* "Can"- Tin Cylinders which receive the Cotton from the card and rollers, and which by their circular motion gives it a slight twist as the Cotton falls and coils into them.


Arkwright & his Cotton Mill

Kelly's 1891 transcript of Breadsall mentions Darwin's family monument inside the church there

Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811: Derby (3): Remarkable Occurrences (1514-1786) ; Entry of the Pretender; Eminent Men.

Dr. Darwin is also mentioned in the Gentleman's Magazine Library: Derbyshire: Miscellaneous Remarks

One of his sons, Sir Francis Sacheverel Darwin, lived at Sydnope Hall for some years (Pigot's Directory, 1828-9).
A grandson was Charles Darwin, the naturalist and explorer (The Voyage of the Beagle).

Beebe Eyre (1792-1871)


Lovely Matlock! thy scenes enrapture my eye,
So romantic, so charming and fair;
They soothe me with peace, they transport me with joy,
And banish my sorrow and care.

I linger, and gaze on thy rocks and thy trees,
On thy river, thy walks and thy vales ;
How delicious the balm I inhale from the breeze! -
What pleasure, what beauty prevails!

How lofty thy Tor! How transcendently grand !
How wondrous thy caverns and spars!
They were form'd by that wise and beneficial hand,
That lit the blue concave with stars.

That being I love, for he knows all my fears,
And sees and protects me while here ;
And his gentle-soft hand will efface all my tears
When before His bright throne I appear.

Sweet Matlock ! Lov'd Matlock ! thy beautiful scenes,
Unrivalled by any on earth,
To me are enchanting but innocent means,
To endear the sweet land of my birth.


"Stupendous Matlock," beautiful as grand !
In them I trace a wise benignant hand ;
Thy giant tor, proud heights and Masson show
The wonders of Omnipotence below.
Rocks thrown on rocks, by Nature's fingers hurl'd
Add to the scenic grandeur of the world.
The pleasant walks, sweet flowers, and shady trees,
Thy healing waters and thy balmy breeze,-
Thy wells petrific, and thy beauteous spars
Which sparkle in thy caves like brilliant stars,
And nubic Derwent lending charms to thee,
While flowing on in graceful majesty, -
Form subjects worthy of the swiftest muse,
Of finest feelings and sublimest views,
On had I skill, delightfully I'd twine
A wreath of beauty worthy scenes like thine[11].

Mrs. Hobson Farrand

[12] *New*

Calmly the sun uprose, another day,
Filled with its amber light the silent room.
As with the dawn, a spirit passed away -
Passed to the "shining shore" beyond the tomb.

Yearning we stand beside the hallowed earth,
With stricken hearts, and sorrow that is pain ;
For well we know, as we record his worth.
"We ne'er shall gaze upon his like again."

Silent the voice, and stilled the true warm heart,
That lived for others, and who counted dross
All things that spoke not of the "better part," -
A Saviour's love, and a Cavalry's blood stained cross.

He passed away, as fades the setting sun,
In western skies ; His harvest field was white,
His sheaves were gathered and his work was done ;
The Master called him for the crown of light.

His works shall live, though midst the holy dead,
Live in our hearts, and homes, shrined above;
And future ages when long years have sped,
Shall speak of him with reverence and with love.


This is just one example of a number of poems written about John Smedley after his death


Riber Castle

Lea Mills, one mile from Cromford Station, Derbyshire

Smedley's Hydro, Starting Out

How John Smedley began.

Smedley's Hydro, Extending the Hydro

Water Cures: John Smedley's New Venture - An Alcohol Free Zone!

John Gisborne (1770-17 June 1851)

" Nor from thy haunts
O Matlock, shall this heart be long withdrawn,
Nor e'er repine to meditate afresh
On scenes which ever please! Unlike the world
Whose friendship snares the bosom, yet with whom
Repeated converse serves but to expose
Delusive joys, thou dost endear thyself
Most closely when familiar; and to hold
Communion with thy river, rocks, and shade
In each revolving season, soothes the mind
And lulls the passions to Divine repose."[1]

Gisborne also wrote about the Derwent:

" Down the vale
Comes Derwent, sovereign river of the Peak.
But when he passes Megdale's tufted rocks
Feeling the pressure of the narrowed vale,
He foams, he frets, he wheels: and rushing thence
Through arches half engulfed, where yonder bridge
Presumes to check his congregated pace,
Sweeps onward, careless of the opening scene
Of beauty and magnificence combined.
Yet, as if conscious of his mighty powers,
As if to swell the triumph of his route,
Just where the traveller stops oft to view
The wondrous scene, to all the caverned hills
He speaks in thunder; calls on Matlock's Tor
To wake the mountain echoes from repose
And bids his billows with redoubled roar
Toss high their tawny crests."[1]


Engraving of Matlock Bridge from an original by Turner, 1795

Matlock High Torr &C, 1751 and 1776

Matlock Bath: High Tor

One of a series of images of the Tor.
Gisborne was one of a number of poets who mentioned the Tor

Views of High Tor, by Local Photographers

This one is by Latham, taken before 1870.

William Gregory (1866-1922)


Via Gellia! Via Gellia!
Thou much beloved spot;
Home of the Scented Lily,
And the blue Forgetmenot.

A though of thee will bear me back
To youths' glad days, and there
In fancy's dream, I wander free
From anxious fear and care.

I've seen thee dressed in Springs' young life,
And plucked thy early flowers,
The Lady-Smock and Violet,
Which come with April Showers.

In Summertime thou'rt all alive
With busy ants and bees,
With rabbits Sporting on the ground,
And Squirrels in the trees.

The Wren, the thrush, the linnet,
Blackbird and Cushat dove,
Unite to make the happy vale
A home of Song and love.

I've Seen thee when the Autumn casts
Her jewels to the ground,
The blackberries and nuts are in
Such rich profusion found.

When Winter wraps thee in his cloak
Thy beauty is not less,
Each tree a plume, each rock a Crown
Of glittering loveliness.

In fact there is no time of year
When memory may not see
Thy beauty, and in peace reflect
Oh what it knows of thee.

Sometimes in dreams I seem to see
Thy woods, and streams and flowers
Thy cottages which, here and there
Make honey suckle bowers.

Oh! Had I Wordsworth's gifted pen,
Or even that of Shelley! A
Greater need praise Should be
Given to thee - Dear Via Gellia.

A selection of on site images of Via Gellia

Rider Point, Via Gellia

In Via Gellia, near Matlock Bath, 1906

In Via Gellia, Matlock Bath, 1903

Tufa Cottage, the most well known of the Via Gellia cottages

Three more poems by William Gregory, this time about Bonsall, are on:
Bonsall: Poems about the village.

John Higton

MR. HIGTON'S "POETRY".[14] *New*

Sir - As Mr. Bryan invites me to write a few lines upon the fate of the letter from the Ratepayers' Association, I will do so at the risk of their being dubbed doggrel.

In the board room was destroyed an important letter
Written by a committee it was thought had known better ;
This letter's importance by the committee was overestimated,
So the Board in their wisdom at once had it cremated.

Before its fate was known, and to save it from humiliation
A man was sent whose face bore signs of great tribulation,
To rescue that letter was the committee's strong desire ;
The chairman said you are too late, its been thrown in the fire.

As the man left he muttered something, they couldn't tell what ;
Some thought he swore, no he didn't swear, but it was something as hot,
But whatever it was, whether for worse or for better,
He was certainly very wrath at the fate of the letter.

Mr. Bryan hearing this he determined to take up the cause,
Thinking by doing so he should gain the public applause,
On reading which this thought occurred unto me -
If this is the roaring of one lion, what must the whole menagerie be !

Other letters have followed, one containing an innuendo,
Which shows what foolish things indiscreet men do,
Language is used which is not withdrawn or substantiated
The writer may wish he himself was cremated.

John Higton.

(A PARODY)[15] *New*

We have received the following effusion from Matlock Bath :-

A neighbour of mine called on me,
'Twas but the other night.
Said he to me, let's take a walk,
To which I said alright.
Said I to him what do you say
If to the Local Board we go ;
For I hear there's something going off
Between the Clerk and friend Leggoe.
I think I never shall forget
What we witnessed at the Board,
For I very soon perceived there was mischief,
In one man's bosom stored.
As the members took their places,
With Mr. Peters in the chair,
It was very soon apparent,
Things were not quite square ;
For I'd been there before many a time, may a time,
We'd both been there before many a time !

Very soon the Clerk rose in his place,
Said he the Chairman's permission I must ask ;
For in virtue of my office,
I must perform the task,
A charge of bribery I prefer,
Against a member sitting here.
We saw at once 'twas Leggoe,
For he looked so very queer,
The sweat ran down his face,
From his forehead to his cheek.
As the chairman rose and called upon
Mr. Leggoe for to speak.
This Blue Ribbon Army man got up,
The matter to explain.
We thought this self made martyr,
Must have water on the brain ;
The subject was a water rate,
Which filled this man with fear,
For he forthwith took his 'kerchief and wiped away a tear.
So I said, he's been at that game before,
Yes many a time, many a time,
We'd both seen him at it before many a time !

But soon he did recover, and looking quite sublime,
Says he, Mr. Chairman -
I stand charged with a serious crime,
But you've all done worse than this
Many a time, many a time.
Yes, you've all done worse than this,
Many a time,
I can prove that a ratepayer
You conspired to rob :
You cheated old Sam Hardy out of his ten bob,
And this I will prove the very next move
I will seek aid from above, and I'll do it all in love.
As I've done it before, many a time
I have done it before many a time!

Matlock Bath.         J. H.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It was Longfellow who coined the term "Lady with the Lamp." Saint Philomena is a patron of the sick.[15] *New*

Santa Filomena.

Whene'er a noble deed is wrought,
Whene'er is spoken a noble thought,
  Our hearts, in glad surprise,
  To higher levels rise.

The tidal wave of deeper souls
Into our inmost being rolls,
  And lifts us unawares
  Out of all meaner cares.

Honor to those whose words or deeds
Thus help us in our daily needs,
  And by their overflow
  Raise us from what is low!

Thus thought I, as by night I read
Of the great army of the dead,
  The trenches cold and damp,
  The starved and frozen camp;

The wounded from the battle plain,
In dreary hospitals of pain,
  The cheerless corridors,
  The cold and stony floors.

Lo! in that house of misery
A lady with a lamp I see
  Pass through the glimmering gloom,
  And flit from room to room.

And slow, as in a dream of bliss,
The speechless sufferer turns to kiss
  Her shadow, as it falls
  Upon the darkening walls.

As if a door in heaven should be
Opened and then closed suddenly,
  The vision came and went —
  The light shone and was spent.

On England's annals, through the long
Hereafter of her speech and song,
  That light its rays shall cast
  From portals of the past.

A Lady with a Lamp shall stand
In the great history of the land,
  A noble type of good,
  Heroic womanhood.

Nor even shall be wanting here
The palm, the lily, and the spear —
  The symbols that of yore
  Saint Filomena bore. — Atlantic Monthly.

There is more about "Lady with the Lamp." and her family:

Miss Florence Nightingale, 1820 - 1910

Florence Nightingale and Lea Hurst

Pedigree of Nightingale

Anna Neagle starring in the film "The Lady with the Lamp".

Sales of Lea Hurst and its estate


An interesting event, politically anticipated.[17]

MATLOCK! thy worthy praise has oft been sung
By many a bard, in many a land and tongue ;
And still thy beauties are the lofty theme,
Thy inspiration and the poets dream,
To paint thy charms the ardent youth aspires,
And of in age this stirs the "wonted fires."
In these fair scenes I drew at my first breath,
And here I hope at last to sleep in death.

My humble muse unworthy is to tread,
Where memory and imagination oft is led ;
Matlock's past history through long years I know,
Since it was written by the great "De Foe,"
And I could chronicle in humble rhymes,
Its rise and progress from the earliest times ;
My task is now to write of present time,
And chronicle the future in my rhyme.

At Matlock Bath on fourteenth of July,
An era new will ope auspiciously,
A work of magnitude will be begun,
The opening ceremony will then be done.
The public garden and pavilion scheme,
Will be reality and not a dream ;
And loud "hurrahs", from a great host will sound,
As a good lady first will "break the ground."

And many friends of Matlock will be there,
Drawn by the occasion and the lady fair,
And one with sliver spade will "turn the sod,"
And all unite in gratitude to God.
That better days are opening to the view,
And zeal and enterprise make all things new
That clouds as after rain will pass away,
And Matlock see the better, brighter day.

And when glad music sounds from the hill-side,
The people of the place will feel much pride,
That Mrs. Peters, in her zeal commends
This enterprise to all her numerous friends ;
And what can not a noble woman do
If she to all is good and kind and true,
Success is certain in a little while
If ladies condescend to help and smile.

And at the banquet guests will then accord
All honour to the chairman of the board ;
To "host" of "Guilderoy" they all will trace
The energy and "zeal" brought to this place -
The place where England's Queen, in girlhood came,
And now become a place of note and fame ;
The good, the help, the hope that now we see,
The "house" of "Guilderoy" we owe to thee.

The Royal Pavilion features on many images within this site including:

The Pavilion on the Hillside, mid 1880s

Matlock Bath from the Royal Pavilion (Palais Royal), 1890

The Royal Pavilion - the Palais Royal

Old Pavilion & Royal Hotel, Matlock Bath, 1903

And Guilderoy can be seen on numerous images, beginning with an engraving showing the property shortly after it had been built:

Museum Parade, Old Bath Terrace & the Heights, 1840

(it is the large house to the right of the Temple Hotel)

Guilderoy, where Mr. and Mrs. Peters lived, shown on a stereoview by John Latham (before 1870).

There is a short biography of Mr. Peters, a gentleman who did so much for Matlock Bath

M. S.

A Visit to St. Giles' Churchyard, Matlock, Easter Sunday, 1874.[18] *New*
(By A Wanderer),

No, I will lay me in the village ground
There are the dead respected.
       R. Kirke White.

The Sabbath bells allured me
To the old tower on the hill,
Their kindly tones assured me
That I was welcome still.
Still welcome to the house of God
Where rich and poor may meet,
And all join there in common prayer
And kneel at the Master's feet.

Before I entered the portal
I wandered the graves among,
And thought of spirits immortal,
Now singing their Easter song;
In the home of their risen Saviour,
Where the banner of love ever waves;
No care, no sin, "no temple therein,"
No sorrow, no tear sprinkled graves.

The records of those now sleeping,
Inscribed on many a stone,
All tell of loving and weeping
By hearts where affection had grown;
Earth foldeth her verdant mantle
Over their narrow bed
But the love of old, is growing cold
Since it placed the stone at the head.

The slabs when first erected
Could scarce be read through tears
Now they are falling, neglected
In only a few short years.
Now they lean over the loved ones
Hiding "remembrance" of love!
When life shall close, may my body repose
With only the grass mound above.

And oh may my spirit, victorious
Through Him who will come in the skies,
Rejoice at the Easter so glorious,
The day when his body shall rise
At the bidding of Him who first rose
And overcame death and the grave
May I stand among the glorious throng
Whom death never more shall enslave.


Matlock Old Church, 1870 & before
, just before the church closed for major rebuilding

Matlock: St Giles' Church, 1890s

Matlock: St Giles' Church, about 1903,
a few years after it had been enlarged for Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

Churches & Chapels

William Sampson

Sampson was an early seventeenth century poet. Here he was writing about the River Derwent:

" Amid thy valleys Darwent swiftly runnes
Who, like a tender mother, to her sonnes
Yields foords and springs and waters, sweet and cleare
As the blest sunne in his meridian spheare.
There may you see the salmon, tench and trout,
Like Neptune's Tritons, nimbly frisk about.
Sometimes along the flower-enamelled vales
She does inundate, and tells wanton tales
Unto the meadows, for she takes a pride
Her crystal limbes on pearly sands to glide,
As if she were enamoured on the hill,
Whose steepe descent her water-courses fill,
As loth she were to leave the continent
And thrust her head into her sister Trent."[1]

Anna Seward, "the Swan of Lichfield" (1742-1809)

Anna Seward wrote about her" favourite river" in 1775.

" There under pendant rocks, his amber flood,
As Hebrus swift, impetuous Derwent pours;
And now, beneath the broad, incumbent wood,
Silent and smooth and deep, he laves the shores;
Till gaily rushing from his darksome way,
His foamy waters glitter on the day,
Resistless, dashing o'er each rocky mound;
And still on his umbrageous bank he shows
Woodbines and harebells and the musky rose;
The heavy velvet wild bees murmuring sound;
His every grace that decks Pieria's clime,
Green vale and steepy hill and broken rock sublime."[1]


The Riverbank, later to be the Derwent Gardens

Although many years had passed since Anna wrote the poem, this view seems to represent her trees, river and rocks

T. A. Staton (1839 - )

Extract of part a poem on the visit of the Emperor And Empress of Brazil in 1871, for which he received an autographed letter[19] *New*.

   Illustrious pair!
Welcome to this enchanted spot
Where nature, varied, fare!
Will never be forgot.
Here may be found the works of God,
The rugged rocks, the flowery lea ;
The golden cloud, the emerald sod,
And music making minstsrelsy.
The rocks around pour down sweet rills,
The heights stretch out in distant grey;
While golden pastures stud the hills,
Charming the landscape every way.
While the pure Derwent in the dale
Wanders from bridge, from crag and fall,
In silvery foliage tells its tale,
How by such course it blesses-all.
Such are the scenes, illustrious pair,
Which in old Matlock ye shall see;
O! by the sweetness of the air
Refreshed and strengthened you may be.


They arrived at Matlock Bath Station

And were welcomed by the stationmaster

J. W. Wheatcroft gave the formal address of welcome.

The Emperor and Empress stayed at the New Bath Hotel

They visited the petrifying well at the Fishpond

William Smedley (1808-1896)

William Smedley owned the Cumberland Cavern in the Nineteenth Century[20].

smedley poem

R. T.

[21] *New*

Doff your glad looks, ye mighty rocks and hills ;
Move slow and silent, Derwent, on thy way ;
Refrain, ye birds, from joyous, happy trills ;
All nature, that in robes serene and gay
Is clad, round Willersley and Cromford, put
Away your cheerless dress, and with us mourn
The loss of one we dearly lov'd, who's shut
For ever from our gaze, and for aye borne
From grandest scenes of nature and of art
By death. Yet still his name will be enshrined
In hearts of thousands ; deeds that have form'd
Of his good life (like sweet perfume, by wind),
Will by a thousand tongues recounted be,
Far from the time and place of their pure birth ;
And Peter Arkwright, who at eighty-three,
His fathers sleeps with, and hath passed from earth,
A name doth leave behind, as sweet as flowers
That bloom in Elysian bowers.


Willersley Castle (one of a number of pages about Arkwright's home).

Pedigree of ARKWRIGHT

Cromford, St. Mary's Church and the Bridge

Peter Arkwright was buried at St. Mary's in 1866; his wife Mary Anne was buried there in 1872.

Unattributed poems

1. *New*
Flowers of Poesy
"In an alcove on the Heights of Abraham, at Matlock, about twenty-five years ago [i.e. about 1841], some would-be poet, no doubt after cudgelling his brains severely for a verse, had written:-

"He who climbs these heights sublime,
Will wish to come a second time."

Under this was added, in another handwriting;-
"And when he comes a second time.
I hope he makes a better rhyme."

Unknown poets[22].

Hail, favour'd Matlock ! where the sight
Is courted to enjoy delight :
T'ascend the hill, and tread the plain,
Where lavish Nature's proud to reign.

Here hills and vales, the woodland and the plain,
Here earth and water seem to strive again ;
Not chaos-like, together crushed and bruised,
But, like the world, harmoniously confused[23].

Unknown poet.

With thy Caverns of Crystal by fancy gemm'd o'er,
From Nature's own treasure sparkling bright ;
As though some new religion untrodden before,
Had just woke out of chaos and burst on the sight.

Unknown poet.
Old Bath Arrival Book, 2 Aug 1818[23].

Fair Matlock, adieu ! with thy rocks and thy bowers,
This warm pulse must fail e'er those scenes I forget,
Or cease to remember with rapture those hours,
Which I've spent in thy bosom and leave with regret.

And far I roam, should e'er beauty invite,
Cause your pilgrim one moment to pause on his way,
Ah ! then will I think of those scenes with delight,
Till Memory's self with the rapture decay.

Unknown poet.
Old Bath Arrival Book (about 1838)[23].

Places found in some of the verses quoted on the left:

Matlock Bath, the Heights of Abraham engraving

The caverns that were open in 1838 included
Matlock Bath: Royal Cumberland Cavern

Matlock Bath, 1806
. Joseph Cumming became the hotel's proprietor the following year.

Matlock Bath: Cumming's Old Bath Hotel

5. *New*
"The High Tor"
Rears its vast head,
Along, whose broad bold base
Impatient Derwent foams among the crags.
Roaring, impetuous ; till his force all lost
Gentle and still, a deep and silent stream,
He scarcely seems to move : o'er him the boughs
Bend their green foliage, shivering with the wind,
And dip into its surface.

Unknown poet.
No date. This version was found in 1872 whilst a shorter version was published in 1882[24].

6. *New*
Ditty from a Matlock album
An Impromptu Contribution to a Lady's Album at Matlock.

"M atlock!" how are thy varied beauties spread,
  Where eye can reach and human foot can tread?
A "Book of Nature" 'tis, where we engage
  To find God's autograph on every page:
T he "Album" vast, where we may always find
  The greatest thought's of the Creator's mind,
"L ead in the rocks" with more than iron pen,–
  Poetry divine, and not from mortal men.
O n every crag, from every nook, there teems,
  Enchanting visions, and romantic dreams.
C an all the volumes in the world that be
  Compare with this great work of Deity?
K eepsake of God, to His dear children give:
  "A Souvenir of Love" sent down from Heaven.

Unknown poet[25].
Note the first letter of every line is emphasised in this and the next two pieces to form the words MATLOCK, MATLOCK BATH or MATLOCK TOR.
No date.

M atchless thy hills, and beauty teems
A s now the sun's departing gleams
T ransfuse thy Tor's majestic height,
L o ! bathes it all in golden light,
O 'er lovely fern and lichen rare,
C aressing each with tender care.
K issing farewell ere night is there.

B elow, the Derwent's silver stream
A llures our steps, till moon's pale beam
T he latticed foliage through reveals,
H oly the light that o'er us steals.

Unknown poet.
"The above lines are the production of a lady who has resided in the neighbourhood of Matlock Bath for some time past"[26].
No date.

Winter at Matlock.[27] *New*

M ajestic Tor ! tho' now the winter's
A dorns they hoary head, the sun's warm glow
T hy purity soft tints with rosy light–
L ovely still this, as when the summer bright
O 'er thy stern features wept and smiled;
C hanging anew each season of the year
K aleidoscopic charms to all is charms appear

T o thee we look, then upwards raise our eyes
O 'er mountain peaks, beyond ethereal skies,
R ejoicing in the source where earthy beauty lies.

By an unnamed female who had previously contributed poems to the newspaper.
No date.


Twentieth century snow scenes in Matlock Bath.

Winter Scenes, 1947

Winter Scenes, 1960-70

Matlock Bath Today (6) - 2010

[The New Bath Hotel and its Lime Tree][28]

Would you ask me the charms of the New Bath Hotel?
There's a linden tree grows, in the garden so well,
That its branches o'er shadow a full rood of ground,
As you clearly may prove if you'll only go round;
And its limbs are supported by forty-nine stakes,
Like the banyan that grows by Hindoostan's Lakes.

And the fountain moreover – aye, honour the fountain,
That, clear as a crystal, bursts forth from the mountain!
All sparking and gushing and limpid it flows,
And the Bath receives it as onward it goes ;
'Tis a chosen retreat, sure, the New Bath Inn.
There's beauty without and there's comfort within.


Matlock Bath: New Bath Hotel (2)

Shows the tree before it was badly damaged some time before 1910 and then blown down in 1912.

Unknown poet.
This poem was said to have been left on a table in one of the rooms by a visitor "many years" before. Another source says it was written in the visitor's book.
No date.

W. H. Young (no dates)

Hydropathy at Matlock House[29]

With Matlock I'm asked in great raptures to go,
With its hills and its dales and its rivers that flow ;
I'm expected to like the kind "treatment" I get,
Though indoors and out I get nothing but wet.

In the morning at seven I'm awoke by the bell,
Then my wife rubs her eyes and wishes me well
In the bath James prepares for me in his best style,
And he gives me a "rain," just to keep down the bile.

At breakfast I meet with such charming young faces
That I feel I am learning what real and true grace is;
I then make enquiries for the health of my neighbours,
Just to let them all know of what my mind savours.
At noon my big bath is due, and let me tell ye;
For shew ye I cant, 'cause I don't want to sell ye;
But you've heard of young babies when they first appear
Well James makes me like one. Now isn't that queer?

But now for my martyrdom ; how shall I tell it?
The whole heavens seem falling ; I think I can smell it,
There's thunder and lightning and brimstone I'm sure
One constant and heavy and dreadful down-pour

Oh James pray have mercy, I feel I am dying,
A gulf is before me, I'm surely not lying
"You are indeed truly," the bath-man exclaims,
You are having a "spine-douche" to cure your back pains.

Thank my stars it's now o'er, and I'll dress me foe dinner
I bore it all bravely, but feel somewhat thinner,
The bell rings again, and sometimes for feeding,
I hasten to follow, my wife gladly leading.

One rule of the house is "no talking at meals"
Of baths or of symptoms that anyone feels ;
I follow the rule out as well as I'm able
And counsel all near me to "silence" at table;

Now you've heard it remarked I daresay of old
That a man's not thought much of if he's not bold
In ladies' society, at least I am told,
But these are not sentiments that I myself hold.

I like to hear talk, so I listen well pleased
And always feel happy though often I'm teased,
So dinner goes on and I sit very still
And look round at others while taking my fill.

The Matlock-House dinners all visitors say
Would be thought very good if you'd much more to pay,
But like other things to an end they must come
And so must my rhyming and all my poor fun.

The bath-man now wants me, he says for a "pack,"
The beginning of which is to lie on my back ;
Then he takes a wet sheet and wraps me up in it,
And in joke asks me then, would I like to take sup in it.

I'm kept there an hour, unable to move
My patience, I must think, in order to prove ;
When as warm as a pudding and feeling quite nice
I'm plunged in cold water - much colder than ice.

This is Hydropathy, the "treatment" I got
And I'm asked to admire it, if I like it or not
Well, there's one thing I say, and that not in fun,
I went to it Old, and I go away

[And with that the verse finishes! The most obvious word to fill the gap is "numb" and "young" would not quite rhyme.]


Matlock House Hydropathic Establishment Advertisement, 1888.
Advertisement, with engraving, from "Black's Guide to Derbyshire" (1888), with quotation from the guide and a later directory. Includes details of the nineteenth century proprietors.

Matlock: Matlock House Hydro, Early Twentieth Century

Image of the Cumberland Cavern poem in the collection of and provided by and © Glynn Waite.
Page written, additional research by and information provided by and © Ann Andrews.
All on this page is intended for personal use only.


[1] Published in Firth, J. B. (1908) "Highways and Byways in Derbyshire" MacMillan & Co., London

[2] Published in Bryan, Benjamin (1903) "History of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish" London by Bemrose & Sons, Limited. He quoted both John Allen's poem and the extract from Darwin.

[3] "Derbyshire Courier", 2 September 1882. Matlock Notes. Historical, Descriptive, and Colloquial.

[4] From "The Derby Mercury", 11 October 1865, but originally published in that paper in August 1811.

[5] "The Gem of the Peak" by W. Adam pub. London; Longman & Co., Paternoster Row (1840). 2nd Edition. See on site transcript, petrifying wells.

[6] John Betjeman's Collected Poems, John Murray (Publishers) Ltd., 50 Albermarle Street, London, WIX 4BD © John Betjeman 1968, 1962, 1970.

[7] "Derbyshire Times, 21 June 1902. Edward VII was crowned on 9 August 1902.

[8] "Derbyshire Courier, 25 February 1882. Having checked census returns for Bolehill I have concluded that A. C. was Adam Chadwick (1824-1884), a bank manager who also wrote poetry. He also wrote under the pseudonym "Oracle". See [17] below.

[9] Darwin's poem, with accompanying explanatory notes by William Adam, was published in Adam, W. (1838) "The Gem of the Peak; or Matlock Bath and Its Vicinity. ..." London; Longman & Co., Paternoster Row ; ... Mawe, Royal Museum, Matlock ; .... This was the first edition of Adam's guide.

[10] "Derby Mercury", 15 August 1860. Searches for Beebe Eyre show him to have been a law stationer who was born in Tideswell, but lived in Duke Street, Derby for many years. His wife Elizabeth (nee Wrigley) pre-deceased him. He died there at the end of 1871.

[11] "Derbyshire Courier", 21 October 1882. Notes from Matlock. Published in this paper after Eyre's death.

[12] "Derbyshire Times", 8 August 1874. Martha Farrand and her family can be found at Riversdale House, Matlock Bridge in the 1871 census and was running a school at the Woodlands, Matlock Bridge in Kelly's 1876 Directory.

[13] William Gregory wrote a number of poems about Bonsall and the surrounding area. They are now part of the collection of and © Susan Tomlinson. William was born in Bonsall and lived there for most of his life although he moved to Little London in Holloway, which was where he died. The poems were eventually given to Susan's parents by William's daughter as she lived next door to them.

[14] "Derbyshire Times", 8 February 1890. The Ratepayers' Association had censured the Local Board for what they believed to be laxity and negligence. See John Higton, who wrote this verse and the following one, in the 1871 census | the 1881 census | the 1891 census.

[15] "Derbyshire Times", 24 May 1890. Briefly, Mr. Leggoe had been accused of trying to buy votes. He had voluntarily paid the water rate of a female resident, which got him into trouble, but she not the one whose bill the Board said he had paid. Allegations of all kinds were made at the meeting, Quite extraordinary.

[15] "Manchester Courier", 26 December 1857. And numerous other newspapers.

[17] "Derbyshire Courier", 8 July 1882. Matlock Bath. The "Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal" of 21 July 1882 said that this poem was by Mr. Adam Chadwick. He also sometimes used his initials "A. C." See [8] above.

[18] "Derbyshire Times", 11 April 1874. This poem aroused some criticism in the press, both about the state of the churchyard and who was responsible for its care. It was also pointed out that dissenters had no cemetery of their own, and had to pay fees to the church so they were also interested in the state of the churchyard.

[19] "Derbyshire Times", 12 August 1871. Matlock Bath. Visit of Their Imperial Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Brazil.
Thomas Arthur Staton was living in Cromford in 1871 and was employed as a Shorthand writer. He was born in Bulwell.

[20] In 1861 the Cumberland Cavern was described as "the greatest wonder of the place" and should be visited first (Northampton Mercury, 7 September 1861). See a description of the Cavern in Bemroses' Guide to Matlock ... , about 1869, p.14 and Smedley's advertisement in the same publication. Also see Matlock Bath: Royal Cumberland Cavern. He and his wife Ann were buried at St. Giles', Matlock.

[21] "Derby Mercury", 24 October 1866.

[22] The rhyming couplets were published in: Robinson, Joseph Barlow (1866) "Derbyshire gatherings: a fund of delight for the antiquary, the historian" (1866),
Published London by J. R. Smith.

[23] Extracted from Henricus (1838) "The Matlock Tourist". The Matlock section of the 1843 edition is elsewhere on this site. Henricus placed quotation marks around the verses in his publication, so it is presumed that the words were not his own in item 1.

[24] "Derbyshire Courier", 20 May 1882. Matlock Notes. These verses were unattributed, but were taken from "a large collection of selections from some of the best English and foreign writers in reference to Matlock and its enchanting scenery". The High Tor Poem was also found in the "Derbyshire Times, 7 December 1872.

[25] Also from the "Derbyshire Courier", 20 May 1882.

[26] "ibid.", 26 August 1882. Matlock Notes. Historical, Descriptive, and Colloquial. Included in an article by "Oracle".

[27] "ibid.", 23 December 1882. Notes from Matlock

[28] Published in a number of newspapers. Extracted from "Derby Daily Telegraph", 10 June 1907, "Derby Daily Telegraph", 8 November 1910 and 26 July 1912.

[29] Extracted from "Derbyshire Times", 9 July 1881.