Updated 16 Mar 2001

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Here are letters and replies about Stoney Middleton Hall, Florence Nightingale's Aunt, and an Article in "The Reliquary".

Letter 1

[Autograph letter from Lord Denman to William Doxey at Matlock]

                    The Midland Grand Hotel, St Pancras, London N.W.

                                                          April 1889
Dear Sir,

        I never was more gratified than by your interesting account of my
dear unpretending old home. My Father let it to Mr Radford in 1817,
and though he wished to come there, and was paying high rents for
summer residences, he would not disturb his tenent, but in 1830 I
believe after Mrs Alexander Radford's death he entered upon it. It was
very small with only a lean to, at the back and a very small flower
garden and a kitchen garden  -  he took in a field at the front, and
added a field at the back to the kitchen garden - he put out bow
windows in front about 1863. I found the roof near falling in by dry rot,
and all the rooms so close on to the Park that damp destroyed carpets
and injured books and pictures also every partition between the rooms
was of stone and that made the house very cold - so earth was taken
out and a high bank near the pathway to Knouchley shows how much
earth was taken away - I also changed the small windows to windows
down to the ground - and put back partitions raised the roof of both
ground floor and bedrooms - the drawing room and dining room are
two of the most cheerful rooms in the County and in the Dining Room -
were all the Prints of old Judges - which were in my Father's chambers
in Lincoln's Inn London - any one is welcome to see the dining room
on asking for leave at the Post Office.

              The old Baths were covered in by my Father and the spa -
known to the Romans is as efficacious against gout and rheumatism
as Buxton - but the water being only 60 degrees of natural heat has to
be warmed to at least 80 in order to be as (if not more) efficacious
than Buxton - The Hotel is a very good one kept by an old working
man from Sheffield. I will explain as to my Father in another sheet.

                             Yours truly and obliged

                            (Lord) Denman

[In 1993 the Author wrote to the present Lord Denman to discover if he
knew the place the letter above refers to. The reply was as follows:]

Dear Mr Palmer,

      Thank you for your letter of 20 Aug. The answer to your
question is Stoney Middleton Hall which remained in my family
possession till about 1950 when it was passed to me in a sadly
delapidated condition. It needed large capital expenditure so I sold it.
The identification is conclusive by reference to the Baths which
covered the hot spring close to the Hall.

      Thomas 2 Ld D (he died nearly 100 years ago) does not
seem to have been an outstanding person - when out in Derbyshire
lanes in his carriage he was accompanied by his pig or pigs.

      Referring to his letter and the additions in 1863, I think the
additions were made a good deal earlier, say 1823 or 33. The 1st Ld
died in 1854.

      The Hall has now had the 1800 additions removed and seems
from photographs to be a charming stone Elizabethan building. This
restoration has been done by the present owners Mr & Mrs William
Glossop. I have no doubt they would be happy to show it to you by
prior appointment.

      I will if I may show him your letter and enclosure when next we

                                      Very sincerely,

                                         Charles Denman.

Letter 2

  Miss Julia Smith of Lea Hurst, Aunt to Miss Florence Nightingale,
  gave to Eliza Dorothy her portrait.

My dear Mrs Dorsay

           I have too long put off thanking you. I wanted to thank you in
kind, that in verse, for your verses, but I cannot get myself inspired, it
seems other things are greater impediments than scrubbing brush and
wash tub. I wish your kind expressions were more deserved, but,
deserved or not, I am grateful for them, what can be a greater
pleasure in this world than sympathy in good. Both giver and receiver
enjoy such sympathy, it helps both along, and so I will not enquire too
curiously into the real facts of the case in which you have founded
your sweet --- poem, but accept it gladly and gratefully as the
expression of your own kind heart, and partly too as a remembrance of
the dear old lady who is gone and the brave spirit who still remains
working on, for I think they must both have been in your mind,

                            Believe me always

                                Yours very truly

                                      Julia Smith
London  Oct 1

  Miss Julia Smith of Lea Hurst, Aunt to Miss Florence Nightingale,
  gave to Grandmother her portrait. Grandmother wrote the following
  verses upon receiving it.

               Lines on the Portrait of a Lady

            How calm how still this evening hour
            The sun in splendour sinks to rest
            And see those days of glory pour
            As from the mansions of the blest.

            The gentle breeze with lightened wing
            Cool with its touch my throbbing brow
            Then come sweet muse awake and sing
            I want a greater tribute now.

            The birds pour forth their cheerful lay
            with flashing wing dart swift from view
            The flowers beam forth their silent praise
            To him who paints their living hue.

            And see one tiny modest flower
            In dress of heaven's own blue arrayed
            Bending beneath the recent shower
            A modest violet droops its head

            It courteth not the suns bright heat
            But in the lonely dell is found
            And from its quiet safe retreat
            It spreadeth sweets to all around

            How like to thee sweet lowly flower
            Is she whose likeness here I trace
            She careth not for rank or power
            Yet there she holds an honoured place

            Oft have I watched her kindling? face
            The poor and aged round her board
            Dealing her bounty with that grace
            Which goodness can alone afford

            The rising race still claim her care
            Her word with good instruction fraught
            And children yet unborn shall hear
            How kindly thus "Miss Julia" taught.

            Kindred to her for whose blessed deeds
            A nations thanks can never fail
            Whose worth all others far exceeds
            Honour to Florence Nightingale

            Lady this portrait to me shews
            A form of unpretending worth
            A soul which feels another's woes
            One of the excellent of earth

            Oh may she learn the unknown soul
            And feel a sense of sin forgiven
            And find a happy place among
            The aristocracy of Heaven

Letter 3

[This letter was preserved by William Doxey for his son Alfred and
refers to an article in "The Reliquary" April 1865, entitled:
"A Brief Sketch of the Life of John Howe, an Ashford worthy" by
Thomas Brushfield JP.]

                                  5, Church St, Spitalfields

                                        Nov 22 1864

Dr Madam,

          I have just received your letter on the subject of my enquiry
respecting your Father, and in answer to your same, beg to state to
you that I have contributed for some time to a Journal called the
'Reliquary' published at Derby, and which is chiefly the depository of
matters connected with Derbyshire. Among other papers, I wrote a life
of a very poor obscure man, a native of Ashford, named Benjamin
Silwas. I considered him as one of the worthies some of the men?, well
deserving whatever honour I could pay his memory. His very poverty
gave him a claim to my best consideration. I have written also on other
subjects chiefly connected with my little village, (as I always
call Ashford in the Water), and I have written a Legend concerned with
a part of the locality, and having got the chief materials for the short
paper from your Fathers Book "Trifles Light as Air", I thought it but
right before I published it, to acknowledge the source from which I
derived it. This brought to my mind the idea about your Father, and it
struck me that he well deserved a brief notice, as much Biographical
as possible, and for this end wrote to your sister's the letter you have
referred to in your kind communication. Had I known your address, I
certainly would have done myself the pleasure of calling upon you, and
if I am spared to visit Derbyshire again I will endeavour to do so.

        You must not fear that I had any notion of --- the word
disparaging to your Fathers memory. I too well, now, know
how he was misunderstood no! I honour his memory and his great
talent! He saw too far into the future for the people of his time,  and it
is thus I consider him one of the worthies of the locality that I would
willingly do his memory the honour it deserves, and about which I am
anxious. This expression of my motives will I trust be the --- of my ---
from your hands, not only what I have asked for, but also any
other point of information which is worthy of note in his life; do please
favour me with all you can remember about your Father, give me the
opportunity of doing justice to his name and his memory, and when
published I will send you a copy of it, and you will find that I shall
speak proudly of my brief knowledge of your Father. Write me as soon
as you --- --- all the particulars about him, and make any suggestions
you please as to any other points respecting his family, which I
may use

              I am delighted to find the poetical power has descended to his
children. Being a little in this way myself I am deeply interested in the
matter and would be glad to have for the same publication any tittle
and scrap you may be able to furnish me with, and any -- which was
your Fathers

             Pardon this long epistle, I shall look forward with much interest
to the time when I may have a gossip with you, and I trust by that time
you will have been convinced thus to honour the name and memory of
your talented Father was the sole purpose of my anxious enquiries.

With best wishes for your well being I remain

           Dr Madam, Yours respectfully

                          Thomas Brushfield
Mrs Doxey

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