"MATLOCK, a parish and post town in the hundred of Wirksworth, county Derby, half a mile S.E. of the Matlock Bridge railway station, and 4 miles N.E. of Wirksworth. The parish, which is very extensive, is situated on the river Derwent, here crossed by a stone bridge, and comprises the hamlets of Matlock-Bath, Matlock Bridge, Matlock-Bank, Riber, Scarthin Nick, and Starkholmes. At the Domesday Survey it was called Mestesford, and until the end of the 17th century consisted only of a few rude dwellings inhabited by miners.
It is now a fashionable watering place in Matlock Dale, situated in the midst of rock scenery. It consists at present of the village and baths about a mile distant from each other. The three principal hotels, which are all stone buildings, and the lodging houses afford accommodation for above 500 visitors. The houses are built in terraces on the steep acclivity of a mountain overlooking the Derwent. The chief trade of the town consists in the cotton, corn, and paper mills, bleach grounds, and other works. The lead mines are not worked so extensively as formerly.
Matlock Bath is situated in a deep valley, the sides of which are richly wooded with pine, fir, cedar, &c. The bottom of the valley is narrow, the hills rising abruptly to the altitude of 800 feet at Masson-Low, or Heights of Abraham, as they are sometimes named from a fancied resemblance to those of Quebec. The baths are about 1½ mile S.E. of the town of Matlock, and near the station on the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock, and Midland Junction railway, which runs frequent excursion trains during the summer season, thus affording easy access to the pleasure parties from the neighbouring towns.
The spa, which is famous for the clearness of its water, and considered efficacious in glandular and other complaints, was first applied to medicinal uses in 1698. The warm springs are situate about a hundred feet above the level of the river, and possess 68° of Fahrenheit, but a much higher temperature prevails some depth below the surface. There are also three petrifying wells.
The original bath was rebuilt by the Rev. Mr. Fern, of Matlock, and Mr. Hayward of Cromford afterwards disposed of it by leave to the Messrs. Smith and Pennell, who erected two buildings with every convenience for using the waters, constructed a carriage road alongside of the river from Cromford, and improved the road from Matlock Bridge. Two, other springs have been subsequently discovered and buildings erected in connection with them all, the springs being within a short distance of each other.
Among the various places of attraction are Cliff House, Old Bath, Dungeon Tor, and High Tor, this last is 396 feet in height, and commands a fine prospect; also Cumberland, Rutland, Devonshire, Speedwell, and other caverns. The Lover's Walk is situated on the opposite side of the river, and consists of various pathways cut through the dense woods, all of which lead to certain points where the beauties of the dale are seen to the best advantage.
There is a museum of fossils replete with natural curiosities of the district, including urns and vases formed of spar, marble, and alabaster obtained in the county. The parish is within the honour of Tutbury, and forms part of the Duchy of Lancaster. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Lichfield, value £320, in the patronage of the bishop.
The church, dedicated to St. Giles, is a small, awkward structure, with a square embattled and pinnacled tower containing six bells. It is situated on a lofty rock with traces of the Hirst Druidical stones; and a camp above it. There is also a district church at Matlock Bath, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, the living of which is a perpetual curacy* It is a cruciform structure with a square spired tower, and was erected in 1842 at an outlay of £2,250.
There are National schools for both sexes at Matlock Bath, and a parochial school for girls at Matlock, also places of worship for the Independents with infant schools adjoining. The parochial charities produce about £59 per annum. The free school, founded and endowed by Mr. George Spateman in 1647, is in ruins, but in lieu of it a convenient building was erected in 1829. Willersley Castle is the principal residence, opposite to which is a perpendicular limestone rock 200 to 300 yards in length. William Pole Thornhill, Esq., is lord of the manor. Fairs are held on 25th February, 2nd April, 9th May, and 25th October, chiefly for cattle and sheep."
"WILLERSLEY CASTLE, a modern mansion on the Derwent in the parish of Matlock, county Derby, 2 miles S. of Matlock. It consists of a centre and two wings, built by the Arkwrights about 1790."