Publisher: Valentine “Colourtone” Series – Looking South
Publisher: Raphael Tack & Sons “Chromatic” – Looking North
There are several postcards and photographs in Buxton Museum that depict views of Matlock Bath as either having a “Switzerland View” or being a “Little Switzerland”. The art critic John Ruskin and poet Lord Byron both visited the area in the day and it is the latter that is credited with the comparison. This first view shows Matlock Bath’s High Tor. On the left, below the area of blank space by the road is now the Artist Corner car park. This side of Matlock Bath can be explored as part of the High Tor Recreation Ground. The second view shows High Tor from the Station Bridge looking North towards Matlock itself.
Matlock Bath is not alone in picking up an exotic moniker. Nicknaming places became fashionable in an era when foreign travel was a limited to a small number of wealthy individuals. Despite having neither mountains or lakes, it is the rocky outcrops that surround the area that lend the feel of winding alpine roads.
The area even is even mentioned in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. In the book, Victor Frankenstein is en route to Scotland with his friend Henry Clerval in order to create a female companion for the monster, whom he has left in Switzerland. On the way they stop of in Matlock. Sadly, Victor found the surrounding area too reminiscent:
We left Oxford with regret and proceeded to Matlock, which was our next place of rest. The country in the neighbourhood of this village resembled, to a greater degree, the scenery of Switzerland; but everything is on a lower scale, and the green hills want the crown of distant white Alps which always attend on the piney mountains of my native country. We visited the wondrous cave and the little cabinets of natural history, where the curiosities are disposed in the same manner as in the collections at Servox and Chamounix. The latter name made me tremble when pronounced by Henry, and I hastened to quit Matlock, with which that terrible scene was thus associated.