A Prospect on the River Manyfold at Wetton Mill after Thomas Smith of Derby

A Prospect on the River Manyfold, at Wetton-Mill - DERSB 2009.30.1 One of the earliest purchases for the Enlightenment! project was back in 2009 when we bought an engraving after Thomas Smith of Derby (1721 -1767) of A Prospect on the River Manyfold at Wetton Mill. This print was published as part of a set in July 1743 titled ‘Eight of the most extraordinary Prospects in the Mountainous Parts of Derbyshire and Staffordshire commonly called the Peak and Moorlands’.

They were popular engravings and smaller version soon appeared in magazines.
The engravings were all after work by Thomas Smith and were engraved by a couple of different engravers including Vivares and Granville.

The eight views are:

1. A Prospect in Dove-Dale

2. A prospect in the upper part of Dove Dale

3. A Prospect on the River Manyfold, at Wetton-Mill

4. A Prospect of Matlock-Bath &c from the Lover’s Walk

5. A Prospect of that beautiful cascade before Matlock Bath

6. A Prospect on the River Wie, in Monsal-Dale

7. A Prospect of the Chee Tor &c on the River Wie

8. A Prospect of the rocks & that vast cavern at Castleton call’d Peak-hole

Dunnington Mill - DERSB 2009.30.5

We have four engravings from this run plus a couple of others after Thomas Smith including this one of Dunnington Cliff, that we also bought in 2009. This was published in 1745 in ‘A set of four views in Derbyshire’.


Hot off the press – Enlightenment! catalogue


To celebrate the end of the Enlightenment! project we have produced a full colour catalogue. The catalogue contains eleven articles, two specially commissioned poems plus photos and information on the 100+ objects that we have bought.

Enlightenment! Catalogue

It’s £9.99 and available from Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Derbyshire Record Office, Strutt’s North Mill and Derby Museum and Art Gallery.  Or you can get it via mail order from Buxton Museum, ring 01629 533540 or email  buxton.museum@derbyshire.gov.uk for further details.

As well as owning a delightful book, your purchase will help support the three museums, with all proceeds going back into their acquisition budgets.

Perfect to read on those cold winter nights

Thorpe Cloud

Thorpe Cloud

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery has recently bought this watercolour of Thorpe Cloud by William Day. We know that Day toured Derbyshire with his friend and fellow artist John Webber in 1789 and they visited Thorpe Cloud –  Eton College owns a Webber watercolour of the subject.  However what is unusual about Day’s Thorpe Cloud, is that it is much smaller than the other watercolours that he produced on the tour and it is not numbered.  We are assuming that it dates from 1789, possibly being drawn in a different sketchbook or having been subsequently cropped, but further research is needed.   Either way, it is a nice addition to Buxton Museum’s collection and of a subject which is currently only represented in print form.

Blue John milk pail, 1803

The news that a ‘lost’ vein of Blue John has been found at Treak Cliff Cavern reminded me that I needed to share some images of our latest purchase.

 Blue John milk pail, 1803

We have recently bought this Blue John milk pail Hallmarked Silverfrom a dealer. It’s an unusual piece and we don’t have anything like it in the collection at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. What makes it particularly rare is the hallmarked silver which dates it to 1803 and to the Sheffield Cutler Thomas Rodgers. We still need to do further research on this object, so watch this space. 

I should put in a disclaimer that although it’s in the style of a milk pail, it is only a couple of inches high – a full sized milk pail would have probably used up our entire acquisition budget from HLF!

Mourning ring for James Brindley

The Enlightenment! Project and my post officially finished at the end of June.  However I have been lucky enough to be re-employed at Buxton Museum on their new HLF funded project ‘Collections in the Landscape’.  You will hear more about this project shortly, but in the meantime I will keep posting on here about 18th and 19th century Derbyshire and add more of our purchases.  We have now got everything photographed, in total over 120 objects! Here is another….

 James Brindley mourning ring

This ring was made in memory of James Brindley (1716 – 1772), the Tunstead born canal pioneer. Earlier in the project we bought a sketch of Brindley, and further information on him can be found here.

Walter Evans & Co’s, Boars Head Cotton box

Boar's Head box

Derby Museums have bought a 19th century brass-bound mahogany box, with the lid inscribed in marquetry “Walter Evans and Co’s, Derby, Boar’s Head Cotton”.

The box also bears the boar’s head logo and would haveBoar's Head logo been used for storing cotton supplied by the mill in Darley Abbey. The Boar’s Head Mill was established by Thomas Evans in 1782. The Evans family seem to be the first in the Derwent Valley to recognize the commercial opportunity of having a retail outlet, serving local people with sewing and knitting cottons, embroidery threads and materials.

Earier in the project Derby Museums also bought an early 20th century cotton reel from the mill.

Richard Arkwright’s brandy pan

Matt Edwards, Derby MuseumsFrancis Hurt

We had recently been outbid on an ivory tea caddy with an Arkwright & Hurt armorial. This was given by Richard Arkwright to his daughter Susannah who married Charles Hurt in 1780. This would have been a lovely accompaniment to the portraits of Mr and Mrs Hurt by Joseph Wright that we are currently raising funding to purchase.

 However, we were tipped off about a collection of Arkwright silverware at the same auction house by Nicholas Shaw, a specialist in fine silver collectables.

 Richard Arkwright's brandy boat

Derby Museums are now the proud owners of this George III silver brandy pan, by Henry Chawner, 1787, engraved with an armorial of Sir Richard Arkwright. The armorial has an eagle crest holding in its beak an inescutcheon bearing a hank of cotton proper.

Richard Arkwright's amorialWhen Sir Richard was knighted and was made High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1787, he commissioned WillersleyCastle and acquired a full dinner service of silver, of which this is a part, to embellish his table.

 Although working in London at the time the excellent silversmith, Henry Chawner, was a member of a local dynasty from Church Broughton, Derbyshire.

 The quality of this piece, its relative rarity and weight in silver alone will make a great exhibition piece.

Silhouette of Thomas Steel (1772-1850)

Derby Museums bought this silhouette at auction in September 2012.

Thomas Steel, porcelain worker

Thomas Steel was a Derby Porcelain worker who was trained by John Davenport. He moved from the Potteries in Stoke to the Nottingham Road Works in Derby in 1815. He was greatly admired for his still life painting and specialised in fruit.

He moved to Minton in 1832 where his flower designs were popular. You can see an example of one his plaques which sold at Bonhams here, and also a vase from the V&A’s collections here.  They are a bit blinging for my tastes!

Derbyshire banknotes

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is now the proud owner of 6 Derbyshire banknotes dating from between 1813 – 1893.  These compliment the bank note, copper printing plate and strike that Enlightenment! bought in 2010.  We bought 2 lots with financial assistance from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and 1 lot with assistance from the Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.  We really appreciate this support! Thank you.

During the enlightenment period Derbyshire, like many other areas of England had an array of privately owned banks.  Many of these banks issued their own bank notes, which were basically receipts for money deposited in the bank.  The bank would then exchange the notes for  real money when the depositor came to the bank.

Over time the notes changed in their design and use, and instead of being issued to a specific named person they became anonymous and could be passed between people.  Voila, this was the beginning of the notes becoming real money in their own right and not just an IOU for real money. (Yes, I realise that this is a very simplified, but it is Friday afternoon….  Anja Rohde is writing an article all about the banking industry in Derbyshire for the Enlightenment! catalogue which will give a more in-depth view).

We bought the notes at the David Kirsch sale at Spinks in December, Kirsch’s private collection was described by Barnaby Faull from Spinks as “the best collection of English provincial banknotes by miles”.  We had a 50% success rate, as we bids on 12 lots in total, below are the 6 we got.

Buxton & High Peak £1 note, 28 October 1813

Buxton & High Peak £1 note, 28 October 1813
This note was bought with financial assistance from the Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.
Thank you Friends for your continual support!

Wirksworth bank, £1, 11 Oct 1817

Wirksworth bank, £1, 11 Oct 1817
This note is very similar to the note that would have been printed from the copper printing plate that we bought in 2010. There are just a few differences, the most notable being the detail of the ‘One Pound’ at the bottom left.

Wirksworth and Ashbourne £5 forgery, 21 Dec 1840

£5 forgery from the Wirksworth and Ashbourne bank, 21 Dec 1840
We were really pleased to get this contemporary forgery.

Reverse of Wirksworth and Ashbourne £5 forgery, 21 Dec 1840

Reverse of the Wirksworth and Ashbourne £5 forgery, 21 Dec 1840
We don’t know what this stamp on the back of the note means. Any ideas are welcome!

Wirksowrth and Ashbourne £10 note, May 1843

Wirksowrth and Ashbourne £10 note, May 1843
We bought this note and the one below with financial assistance from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund.
Thank you!

Moore & Robinson's Nottinghamshire Bank £5, 1893

Moore & Robinson’s Nottinghamshire Bank £5, 1893
Again a huge thanks to the V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

We also bought two Derby and Derbyshire watermarked unprinted £50 notes, but the photo I have just looks like a white blur.  I will try and get a better image and upload it.

Elias Hall – A vertical stretch of the Strata across the High Peak Hundred of Derbyshire

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery has bought a geological strata map of England, stretching from near Southport on the West Coast to near Doncaster on the East.  The engraved map shows the different  strata in hand painted colours e.g limestone, coal, gritstone etc.   The central section shows the strata across the High Peak Hundred of Derbyshire.  It was produced by Elias Hall, and published in sections by William Phillips in 1824 and 1834.

Strata Derbyshire map - Elias Hall

Elias Hall (1764 – 1853) was a mineral surveyor, collector and geologist who James Croston writing in ‘On foot through the peak’ (1876) describes as being the ‘father of geology in Derbyshire’.  Croston praises Hall for directing his attention to the subject of geology ‘at a time when geology, as a science, had made but little progress, and in this country was comparatively unknown’.

Section of the Strata of Lancashire Coalfields

On visiting Castleton, Croston went to see Hall’s grave and describes him as an example ‘of genius in the humbler walks of life’.  Croston goes on to explain that Hall was a self taught man who at an early age ‘imbibed a taste for natural science’.

‘As a practical geologist he attained to a considerable degree of eminence, and was favourably known as the author of several productions having reference to the structure of the earth. His most important work, and that on which perhaps more than any other his reputation is founded, is a geological and mineralogical map of the great coal-field of Lancashire, with parts of the neighbouring counties of Derbyshire, Cheshire, and Yorkshire, coloured stratigraphically.’

The map publicises Hall’s work which was available to buy from his house in Castelton.  He produced geological models and relief maps and sold mineral specimens ‘whose precise Localities’ he had ascertained.

According to Croston the British Museum – on Joseph Bank’s insistence – bought two models for their collection.  I have done a quick search of the British Museum’s collections but couldn’t find any reference to them.  A google search brought up a newsletter from the Geological Curators Group (no. 9, April 1977) which shows that in the 1970s they were looking for the models too, but had drawn a blank.  I plan to try and find out whether they tracked them down and if the British Museum still have them.

I like to think that the 25 year old William Day might have met the 25 year old Elias Hall when he visited Castleton in 1789.  Judy Egerton’s Connoisseur article on William Day (Vol 174, 1970) states that Day’s interests were Geology, Minerology and Painting – in that order.  He also ‘formed one of the earliest private collections of minerals in England; and always took on his sketching tours a bag for specimens as well as a box of watercolours’.

Castleton watercolour by William Day, 1789

Castleton watercolour by William Day, 1789
Could one of these buildings have been Elias Hall’s house?

Day’s mineral collections ended up in Hampstead Central Library where it was destroyed during the blitz, so we can only guess what Derbyshire specimens he might have collected.  18th century Castleton was a small place so I feel that it is in the realms of possibility that Day and Hall might have met and talked geology over an ale or two – although sadly I have  no evidence to support this!

Dec 2013 update on Elias Hall part two.