Picture Gallery> Derbyshire Pictures Index> This page
The Andrews Pages Picture Gallery : Derbyshire
A selection of photographs, prints and postcards. Some have personal or family connections
Thorpe and Thorpe Cloud

The village of Thorpe, part of which is shown above, is situated on Derbyshire's border with Staffordshire and is on the hillside above Dovedale. The village has a small church with a Norman West Tower dating from about 1150 A.D.[1].

Although it doesn't look overly large from this angle, Thorpe Cloud is the distinctive conical shaped limestone hill marking the southern entrance to Dovedale. The narrow road linking Thorpe to Ilam and Dovedale goes down a steep slope to the valley floor, circulating Thorpe Cloud in its descent where the escarpment is less precipitous. From below, where the visitor can properly appreciate the immense size of the hill towering above them; it is massive. At its foot are the famous Stepping Stones across the River Dove and the county boundary runs along the middle of the river bed. Bunster Hill, another prominent and even higher landmark, rises up from the opposite bank.

Bonfires have been lit on the summit of Thorpe Cloud over the years to mark special occasions. The first to be recorded in the Derby Mercury was in May 1789 and was to mark the recovery of King George III from the first bout of a series of illnesses (believed to be porphyria) that were to plague him for the rest of his life. The inhabitants of Thorpe were not alone in wishing the King well as there were similar celebrations throughout the country.

"His Majesty's recovery was celebrated at Thorpe, in this county, on Wednesday last:-The morning was ushr'd in With ringing of bells, which continued the whole day ; a large Bonfire was made upon Thorpe Cloud, which, from its eminence, was seen several miles round the country. At noon a number of gentlemen met at the Dog and Partridge public-house, where an elegant dinner was provided on the occasion; a number of loyal and constitutional toast were drank, and the utmost festivity prevailed throughout the village. - The poor were not forgotten during this scene of joy, every poor parishioner being plentifully supplied with meat and drink".[2]

Ebenezer Rhodes visited Thorpe and Dovedale on a fine day in either 1822 or 1823 and noted that the summit of Thorpe Cloud was sometimes obscured with vapour - apparently described locally as "the mountain had its cap on". When he and his companions reached the banks of the Dove they became aware of some sportsmen and their dogs "amongst the bushes on the steep acclivities on our right" but they were so far above Rhodes and his friends that they appeared to be very small, almost miniature representations[3].

A visitor in 1848 was William Lee, an engineer from Sheffield. He and his party, who were on a four day tour of a portion of the Peak, spent three or four hours walking from the Isaac Walton Hotel to Berresford Dale. Dovedale was visited by 30,000 people each year at that time but William was visiting it for the first time. He said that "New and magnificent views of rock and scenery break upon the sight every moment;- at every turn of the body the picture is changed like magic. The only constant feature of these landscapes being the sparkling Dove". He subsequently presented a paper to the Sheffield Literary and Philosophical Society and showed some of the specimens he had collected along the way[4]. The early Victorians were fascinated by anything scientific. William Lee married the sister of the web mistresses 2 X great grandfather.

He was not alone in collecting geological specimens. Some forty years later a gentleman from Matlock Bath, Mr. John Higton, was also collecting fossils on a tour he made from the Ashbourne area into Staffordshire (Alton, Leek and other places). Dovedale was reached, and Thorpe Cloud was scaled. "And now Thorpe Cloud is in one part a few inches lower than it was short time since ; and a certain shop in Matlock Bath has on view specimens of fossils brought from there which have never before seen daylight since they were first deposited their [sic], living creatures.
John Higton, South Parade October 4th 1888"[5].
What a plug for his spar shop - and the newspaper fell for it.

As a teenager, boarding at Ashbourne Grammar School, the web mistress and other girl boarders would catch the local bus and visit Thorpe about once a year. We were invited to tea by a very kind elderly lady, a Bishop's messenger, who then lived in the village. She and her sister took pity on us; perhaps they thought we were starving on the boarding house fare as it wasn't just a cuppa and a small piece of cake that we were given. The two ladies provided all kinds of cakes, sandwiches and other delicacies for us to enjoy. What emerged from the kitchen as full plates were returned with hardly a crumb left on them.

Thorpe Cloud is now owned by the National Trust. The Dog and Partridge Hotel has become (2017) The Old Dog.

Thorpe Cloud, about 1925. By Frederick Adcock.
Derbyshire Pictures Index
Next page
Previous page
Also see
Our Genealogy
Images of
Matlock & Matlock Bath

Dovedale, from Hartington to Ashbourne, 1908

Ilam Church

Ilam Hall

Pre War visitors to the
Dog & Partridge

(see 3rd image down)


Thorpe is mentioned in the following on-site transcripts:

Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811, Parishes T, which has more about the village.
Kelly's 1891 Directory

The Wolley Manuscripts, Matlock, Volume 6682 folios 225-228 and 239-244.

1. "Thorpe Cloud, Dovedale". Published by S. Hildesheimer & Co. Ltd., Manchester & London, No.3035. Printed in Berlin. Not used, but almost certainly published before the First World War - the stamp box contains the words "(½d postage stamp Foreign 1d", indicating that it was before 1918.
2. Pen and ink drawing from "The High Peak to Sherwood, The hills and dales of old Mercia", Thomas Linthwaite Tudor (1926), published London by Robert Scott. With drawings by Fred Adcock and others.
Both images in the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Cox, John Charles, (1915, 2nd edition, revised), "Derbyshire" - Illustrated by J. Charles Wall, Methuen & Co., London. Cox was then Rector of Holdenby, Northampton.

[2] "The Derby Mercury", 7 May 1789.

[3] Rhodes, Ebenezer (1824) "Peak Scenery" pub. London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, Paternoster Row. Also see the map of Rhodes' Derbyshire journeys.

[4] "Buxton Herald", 9 September 1848. Ramble from Ambergate. Through Matlock, Bonsall Dale, Dovedale, &c. &c. To Buxton. Extracts from a paper read before the Sheffield Literary and Philosophical Society by Mr. W. Lee, civil engineer. This was a four day tour of a portion of the Peak. Having reached Ambergate by rail, some of the journey was by omnibus and some on foot.
The report of this journey was continued in the "Buxton Herald", 16 September 1848.

[5] "Derbyshire Times", 10 October 1888. A Few Days Amongst The Quarries And Hills Of Derbyshire And Staffordshire.
John Higton can be found in Matlock Bath in the 1861 census | the 1871 census | the 1881 census | the 1891 census. He advertised in Kelly's 1876 Directory | Kelly's 1891 Directory.