Monument record MDR3166 - The Heights of Abraham, Upperwood, Matlock Bath

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Public pleasure grounds c. 1780 to 1844. 'Savage' or Alpine type pleasure grounds. Zig zag path c. 1780 by Stephen Simpson. Bare hillside planted by 1797-1804 by George Vernon and 1810-43 by Dr Jonathan Gilbert. Upper and Lower Tower Houses in Gothic style. Show caverns: Rutland cavern 1810 and Masson cavern 1844. Tufa shelter, West Lodge. Developed in the 1970s and 1990s with a cable car and visitor centre. (1, 2) The Heights of Abraham was a development of Matlock Bath associated with the opening of the third bath by the Simpson family in 1786. The name came from a supposed resemblance to the Heights of Abraham at Quebec scaled by Wolfe in 1759. The Simpsons laid out and planted the zig-zag path on the south-facing flank of Masson Hill and in 1787 advertised 'walks to the Heights of Abraham'. Subsequent land purchases enlarged their holding and when George Vernon bought the estate in 1797 he extended the planting scheme. Before 1801 an entrance lodge was in place, now modified as a private dwelling on Waterloo Road. By 1808, when the property was in the ownership of Benjamin Wyatt, builder and architect of Sutton Coldfield, The Tower, now the Lower Towers, had been built in Gothick style. The Upper Town House was added c. 1830 by Dr Jonathan Gilbert in similar picturesque style. Following clashes with miners asserting their traditional rights, the court designated the site as a garden and therefore an area which could not be mined. The Victoria Prospect Tower was built in 1844. Today (1999) the freehold Heights of Abraham grounds are owned by Derbyshire Dales District Council but are run as pleasure grounds by a private lessee. (3) The Upper Tower at the Heights of Abraham is a Grade II early 19th century C19 'sham castle' and a notable landmark. It is constructed from stucco with castellated parapets. There is a central block of two storeys with the lower storey advanced, a three storeyed round tower at each side and a recessed wing on the right-hand side. (4) The Lower Towers at the Heights of Abraham are a Grade II early 19th century house of 'Strawberry Hill' style and a prominent landmark. It is constructed from stucco with a castellated parapet. It is of two and three storeys in an irregular plan. There is a central two storeyed block, a 3-storeyed circular tower with a window on the right-hand side, a recessed wing on the left-hand side and a three storeyed block at the rear. (5) There are many abandoned shafts, but there are significant mining remains within two caverns, Rutland Cavern and Great Masson Cavern which has been developed as part of the Heights of Abraham leisure complex. Both have been worked since at least the 1470s. Further lead mining remains in the High Tor gardens on the opposite side of the river are Scheduled Monuments. (6)

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Anthony, J. 1979. The Gardens of Britain 6: The East Midlands.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Derbyshire County Library. The Matlocks and their past. 1977.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: English Heritage. Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. Part 10: Derbyshire. PG1671.
  • <4> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. 3/2958/117.
  • <5> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. 3/2958/119.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D (ed.). 1997. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology. A Gazetteer of Sites. Part IV. Derbyshire Dales.



Grid reference Centred SK 2918 5855 (615m by 337m) (Approximate)

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Record last edited

Dec 21 2018 9:27AM

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