Derbyshire Life|March 2020
Matlock Bath’s rich history has been carefully researched to produce what can be described as a definitive guide to this picturesque Derbyshire village. Dr Christopher Charlton and Doreen Buxton jointly researched and wrote Matlock Bath: A Perfectly Romantic Place, an illustrated book detailing Matlock Bath’s fascinating history. It’s a book that brings together Christopher’s professional training as a historian and Doreen’s enthusiasm for local history.
Doreen arrived in Matlock Bath at the age of two as a wartime evacuee from Manchester with her mother and older sister. Their visit was only intended to be temporary but the family ended up staying. For Doreen it meant a happy childhood spent discovering the local area. She says, ‘I’d take the dog with me and we’d go exploring every inch of the place. Back then, no one asked where you were going. You’d just go off in the morning and turn up back at home when you were hungry! I loved the place.’
Her interest in the history of the village, however, began some 40 years later and then it was almost by accident. Following time spent at university and then in America, Doreen moved back to Matlock Bath with her husband and two children. The old house they bought came with what Doreen describes as ‘a splendid set of deeds’. She says, ‘I wanted some help reading them so went along to the local history group in Matlock.’ It was there she met Christopher Charlton, tutor of the group who worked for the University of Nottingham’s Department of Adult Education as its mid-Derbyshire resident tutor before later becoming director of the Arkwright Society where he was instrumental in helping to secure World Heritage status for the Derwent Valley.
The class was discussing Matlock Bath and Doreen immediately became fascinated with its history. She says, ‘I began to think about why the village looks the way it does. I’d write things down that I learnt, though never with the intention of writing a book.’ What began as a few notes turned, in time, into an archive and with it a growing obsession to find out as much as possible about Matlock Bath’s past.
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