Matlock – “The Gem of the Peak”

At the weekend I took a trip to Matlock Bath and surrounding area, and found this little memento in ‘Scarthin’ bookshop, in Cromford.  The booklet was issued by the Matlock District Improvements Association in order to provide visitors with a keepsake to celebrate their visit to the town of Matlock, alongside a comprehensive history of the area. Sadly, I cannot find a date anywhere on the booklet, so I am unsure as to when it was actually produced. I appreciate the way that the coarse rope has been used to hold the booklet together; along with the crest/stamp on the cover it creates a very nautical aesthetic.

Matlock used to entice visitors from across the country, with it being hailed as a ‘Metropolis of Hydropathy’. The bracing and exhilarating air led it to be billed once upon a time as the ‘Healthiest Health Resort in the United Kingdom’. Interestingly, John Smedley  is credited as being the founder of hydropathy at Matlock as he provided the initial water treatments used. Not surprisingly, due to the above, Matlock attracted a large number of key figures from the art and literature worlds, with records showing that Lord Byron, Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot all resided there for large periods at a time.

“When nature had completed Switzerland there was left one beautiful fragment for which she had no further use in that country; so she set it in Derbyshire, amid a framework of romantic hills, and in time it came to be called the ‘Gem of the Peak’. THAT GEM IS MATLOCK” – Dr. Spencer T. Hall (‘The Sherwood Forester’)

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