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Matlock Historic Buildings

Matlock has a long and interesting heritage and although it's now a place of modern day shops and well known for its vibrant nightlife, there are still many historic buildings still standing. It is also home to some unusual landmarks.

The earliest mention of Matlock can be found in the Domesday Book of 1086 where it was called 'Meslach.' Now it is affectionately called 'Matlac,' Matloc' and 'Matloke.' The name mentioned 'Maethel ac,' or ' the oak where the moot (or meeting) was held,' is the triangular green to the West of St Giles church, just below the Wheatsheaf. There is now an oak tree, of the Turkey oak variety, which was planted in 1924, to replace a sycamore tree, which blew down in a gale in 1903.

Church Street was formerly known as Tag Hill, and is part of an ancient thoroughfare linking Wirksworth to Chesterfield. The medieval bridge over the Derwent at Cromford replaced an earlier ford of the same place name. In the 18th century it cut through the rocks at Scarthin to allow a new road to Matlock Bath and beyond and follows the line of the A6.

There are a number of historic houses clustered around St Giles Church immediately above the Wheatsheaf, which as its name suggests, was once a pub a hundred years ago, but long before that a medieval manor house. It's a building with a date of 1681 on its facade, but historians believe this indicates the 17th century dressed stone fronting of the building, but the former roof lines and the limestone rubble of the side and rear walls of the house, date the building better.

Beyond the Wheatsheaf lies the old Rectory, setback in its own very spacious grounds. Two modern houses have now been built one of which is the new Rectory but the old Rectory appears to be late 18th century and its irregular plan leads to an earlier, more complex history. About 1980, the remains of the 15th century chimney were discovered in a room on the first floor.

Opposite the old Rectory stands the former town school, which was erected in 1870 and replaced in the 1990s by a new school higher up the hill. This Victorian building has now been converted into housing and at right angles to the old school stands the Duke William public house of 1754. It commemorates the Duke of Cumberland, the victor of Culloden.

The Kings Head, a little below has been a private house since 1970 and a date stone, which has now disappeared, once said 1628. The reconstructed building to the East of the churchyard on the far side of Stoney Way has 17th century features.

The hillside to the South of the church is now known as Matlock Cliff and at its summit stands the impressive ruins of the folly which is Riber Castle. Built in the 1860s by local industrialist John Smedley, the Castle served as his residence until it then became derelict for many years, became a wildlife sanctuary and now has plans for restoration into housing.