Derwent House History

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Derwent House is a grade two listed historic building in Matlock. The house was owned by The Knowles family in the 17th century. The estate originally included several of the surviving buildings you can see next to what we now know as Derwent House, included in these is one which is believed to be one of the oldest buildings in Matlock, dating from circa 1670.

old fire place, print of Knowleston Gardens and old door handle

The House dates from the 17th Century

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The house has a date stone of 1753 and is built of coursed gritstone, as are many of Derbyshire’s buildings. The house has changed and altered over the centuries. The middle section of the house is believed to date from the 17th century and it seems likely there was some sort of small workshop. The rear, which added the large kitchen and further bedrooms, was built during the Victorian period. The double-fronted bay windows were also added around this time. The house has many of the original features, including beamed ceilings, original fireplaces and quarry tile floors.

Old iron key to front door and black window catch

The Knowles Family

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The Knowles family were involved in lead mining which took place in the gardens opposite the house, now known as Knowleston Gardens. The gardens were laid out by the famous Victorian gardener Joseph Paxton. The house is mentioned on the Matlock trail, a two-mile walk around Matlock covering a number of heritage sites. The trail begins and finishes at the entrance to Hall Leys Park, which is just a few steps from the front door of Derwent House.

John Knowles, a descendant of the family, built the houses next to Derwent House in 1857, hence Knowleston Place. This includes our Glendon Bed and breakfast. The land where the large park now stands was part of the estate of the Knowles’ family and in 1898 Henry Knowles, nephew of John, bequeathed this to the parish of Matlock. This became known as Hall Leys Park. Over a century later, much of the splendour of the original park can still be enjoyed today.

Leys Park in Matlock with bandstand and green trees

Derwent House

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