History of the Village of Stoney Middleton

By Thomas E. Cowen (1910)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2003

History of the Village of Stoney MiddletonTHE ROMAN BATHS

THE ROMAN BATHS.

Antiquaries have been able to prove that the Romans had a Bath here at the time that they occupied the station at Brough. Roman coins found in the vicinity of the Baths is an important circumstance.

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In the summer of 1814, whilst some workmen were removing the soil from the limestone rock near the place where the road branches out of Middleton Dale to Eyam, they discovered some Roman coins, chiefly copper, but some were covered with a thin silvery coating. They bear an inscription of the Emperor Probus, Gallienus, etc., and of Victorinus (a usurper).

It is very probable that these Baths were held in high esteem in the early Church and Middle Ages, and were dedicated like the Church to St. Martin.

Short, writing in 1734 in his treatise on “Mineral Waters”, says:

“The bath is 8 yards S.W. of the Spring and is enclosed with a wall 4 yards high, 4 yards square, 6 yards every way. The thermometer rose to 6 1-8 ins., and the water comes bubbling up continually with great force as in Buxton. Foreign substances placed in it appear very blue, but white when taken out into the air. Then we have three perpetual warm springs close by the west side of the Churchyard, each of which raised the spirit in the tube to six inches. This water in Frost or Cold Weather is 1-28th part warmer than in Summer. It weighed 50 grains in a pint lighter in Winter than common water. It will keep ten days without smelling.

It can be drank more freely and safer than at Buxton, as it is cooler. It has more sulphur in it than Matlock, so it should be beneficial to Rheumatism.

These waters may be drank for 14 days without intermission, following a rest of 4, or 5, or even 7 days. Four pints a day is sufficient and not too much. Alcohol should not be taken with it. It is beneficial for any unnatural sharpness and saltness of blood, heartburn, too great heat, contraction of stomach, shortness of breath and stuffiness of the lungs.”

Pilkington's “A View of the present state of Derbyshire and its Antiquities” (1789), contains the following mention of the water and bath at Stoney Middleton

“Dr. Bullock informed me that the warm water at Stoney Middleton in its chemical properties and medicinal virtues very much resembles that at Matlock. He also said that in the bath the thermometer stands at 63 degrees, but in two other springs at a small distance from it, it rises only to 60.

“Dr. Pearson says that a pint of this water weighs 6 grains heavier than distilled and 2 grains heavier than Matlock water.

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“Stoney Middleton has hitherto been little visited or frequented on account of its warm springs. Perhaps if the bath, which is only enclosed by a high wall and exposed to the open air, was covered in and a convenient room built adjoining it, such an improvement might induce a greater number of persons to try of what efficacy the water is possessed.”

Bray, writing in 1771 says “the Bath is nearly as hot as that of Buxton, and was used with great success by those affected with rheumatism”. Their source is near a great fault ranging to Great Hucklow. These springs are of a tepid character, slightly warmer than those of Matlock (about 63 degrees), and are reputed efficacious in certain diseases, such as rheumatism, scrofula, and bad eyes. People in the neighbouring villages used to fetch this water in bottles. The two neat stone buildings for the accommodation of bathers are of modern construction. A great boon would accrue to Stoney Middleton if the Baths could be opened to the public and its virtues demonstrated.

End of Chapter V: => THE HALL

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2003.

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