Lover's Leap, Eyam, Derbyshire, Looking West, 1890s by William Highfield (1870-1957), Courtesy of Eyam Museum

‘Lover’s Leap’, Derbyshire

Just outside the village of Eyam, in the Peak District lies the village of Stoney Middleton where, according to folklore, in 1762 a young woman by the name of Hannah Baddeley, who was born in the late 1730s, tried to commit suicide by throwing herself over the cliff top.

This is her story as told by a somewhat over enthusiastic reporter for The Buxton Herald, some 80 years later the event, so read into it as you wish! We have tried to find references to the story closer to its time, but somehow the press of the day managed to miss this story, despite reporting similar ones, as you will see at the end.

Lovers Leap. In 1762 Hannah Baddeley was the most beautiful girl in Stoney Middleton. Unable to face the future after being rejected by her lover William Barnsley, she decided to end her life. She climbed the cliff above you, proclaimed her love for William and jumped. Her woollen petticoats billowed out and parachuted her down to safety, Cured of her desire for William, she died December 12th 1764. Derbyshire folklore
© Copyright David Lally and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Hannah Baddeley, a very beautiful young lady was greatly admired for the ardour of love which her incomparable charms created in the bosom of the village swains of Stoney Middleton, the place of her birth and residence. Amongst the many who sought to obtain the affections of the innocent young Hannah, was a young, intelligent man, named Baldwin, who, after countless visits had the happiness to think that his labour would be crowned with success. Enraptured with joy, Baldwin became even more assiduous until he beheld in ecstasy the unequivocal signs of reciprocal affection.

Humble in worldly circumstances, yet the loving couple felt all the blissful glow, the undefinable and delicious sensation of first, pure love. Often, they walked forth and enjoyed their lonely wandering a happiness that to them momentarily increased. The tangled walks along the rugged steeps which overhang the village of their homes, were as a paradise; their hearts were entwined round each other in all the glowing fervency of concentrated bliss.

Months passed away, yet the blissful sunshine of love, in which Baldwin and Hannah walked seemed to increase in glowing, fervent and deeply intoxicating splendor: they were happy and dreamed not of its transitory nature. Alas! Alas! experience tells us of countless instances, in which suns have risen in hope and glory, in which bright prospects of future happiness have been suddenly overshadowed and darkened by the sable shades of maddening disappointment, bitterly agonizing.

Inscrutable as are the operations of the human mind, still, from certain effects, it may be presumed that there is in reality a kind of similarly exiting between the immaterial portion of man, and the material things of the world. When any physical agent or instrument is exercised immoderately, it is soon destroyed; so with the mind, if any of its affections be excited to an unnatural height or pitch, it will, if not regulated in time, lose its zest, become in a manner paralyzed and decay.

The conduct of Baldwin might be instanced in corroboration of the opinion here advanced: for, strange and novel as it may appear, in about twelve months from the commencement of his love for the lovely Hannah, he relapsed gradually into a state of luke-warmness as respects his passion, and at length into total apathy. His visits became less frequent and soon ceased forever. But how was this borne by the lovely confiding Hannah she sank beneath the stroke with all the terrible anguish of a broken spirit. For hours she would sit gazing at the wall in silent stupefaction; then would burst forth a flood of tears bringing short solace. Hapless Hannah! Despair at length began to urge her to escape the bitter pangs she endured by self-destruction: terrible – awful remedy!

A Country Girl by Paul Sandby, c.1760s. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
A Country Girl by Paul Sandby, c.1760s. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

After a few months past in this deplorable condition, Hannah resolved to put period to her miserable existence by throwing herself from one of the highest rocks in Middleton dale, a resolution too horrible to contemplate. She repaired to the top of a towering rock early in the morning of the day following her resolution. Her bonnet and handkerchief she laid on an adjoining thorn, and with clasped hands and loose hair waving in the morning breeze, she passionately thus exclaimed

‘O my Baldwin, my Baldwin, false Baldwin, no I will not call thee false, my love, my life, thee whom I loved, I still love thee still. O my love, wilt thou not come to my grave and shed one tear to the memory of her who died for thee? I’ll bless thee again, my love, and then from this dizzy height I’ll cast myself and prove to thee and the world, my love is stronger than death. I sink, I go, my love, my love’.

Hannah sprang from the rock, which is upwards of eighty feet high, but incredible as it may seem, she fell upon a rocky projection, then among some thorns which then grew from the side of the rock, and reached the ground very little injured. The villagers were soon on the spot, and the rash maid was conveyed home, but the sense of her miraculous escape totally erased from her mind the maddening it of love under which she had laboured. She lived a few years after, unmarried and died after having spent that period in a pious and highly exemplary manner*. Such is a brief outline of the story which has been given the designation ‘Lover’s Leap’ to the high and romantic rock in Middleton Dale – a story well authenticated, as may be satisfactorily proved.

Not until the last line of the article does the author tells their readers that ‘the name Baldwin is assumed in consequence of the author not having any means at hand to ascertain the real name of Hannah’s lover‘. Quite why he came up with that name will remain a mystery!

As with any folklore story, newspapers over time have recorded events somewhat differently, some saying that her fall was broken by some small trees and when found she was taken home and gradually recovered from the serious injuries, although she was crippled as a result of the fall.

Other accounts say that she was found by workmen at the pit and when asked how she fell she said that she had been walking up the dale to fetch the cows and her foot slipped.

We know that Baldwin was not the real name of the gentleman, but other reports name him as Johnson and say that he was quite a charmer and told all the young girls the same story about how much he loved them, Hannah was, apparently, just one of many and that he moved on from the neighbourhood after this occurrence. According to reports locally however, the gentleman in question was in fact a William Barnsley.

This idea of young women throwing themselves off high cliffs after being rejected seems to have been somewhat more commonplace than you would have imagined, as there are several places named ‘Lover’s Leap’ around the country, all with similar stories as their origin. We’ve listed a few below, including one leap down the necessary!

True Briton, Wednesday, February 1, 1797

 

St. James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post, April 25, 1769 – April 27, 1769

 

* Although we have not been able to view the parish records for Stoney Middleton, another site appears to confirm Hannah’s burial on the 12th December 1764 and gives her parents’ names as William and Joan Baddeley.

Sources used:

Derbyshire Courier, 21 September 1878

The Derby Mercury, Wednesday, February 14, 1883

The Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald, Saturday, May 04, 1889

True Briton, Wednesday, February 1, 1797

Featured Image (although not Georgian it shows exactly where Lover’s Leap is):

Lover’s Leap, Eyam, Derbyshire, Looking West, 1890s by William Highfield (1870-1957), Courtesy of Eyam Museum

 

‘Taking the waters’ at Buxton in 1800

The majority of us will have come across Buxton Water which today is sold commercially bottled, but what was known about Buxton and its health-giving water in 1800?

buxton-water-image

The Georgians had an obsession with their health, and there were several popular spa towns frequented in the late Georgian/Regency periods, Buxton being one of them. We thought we would find out what the writer William Bott had to say about the lovely Derbyshire town of Buxton in 1800 in his book ‘A description of Buxton, and the adjacent country; or the new guide, for Ladies and Gentlemen, Resorting to that place of health and amusement’. Please note this is in no way us endorsing Buxton water although, if you had been reading this in 1800 you would have thought it was, although even today it’s possibly to drink it directly from the source.

St Ann's Well, Buxton via The Megalithic Portal
St Ann’s Well, Buxton via The Megalithic Portal

The salubrity of the air and the excellent quality of the water, are entitled to very particular and distinguished notice, on account of both their very ancient reputation and great usefulness.

A range of buildings constructed in the form of a crescent, has however, been lately erected which for beauty and magnificence exceeds any other in this part of the kingdom, the space being two hundred and fifty-seven feet wide, an elegant stone balustrade extends the whole length of the front, with the arms of the Cavendish family neatly carved in wood, fixed in the centre. This Crescent consists of four private lodging house, two hotels and the assembly room; the latter of which forms a part of the larger hotel, and is seventy-five feet six inches long, thirty-two feet two inches wide and thirty feet high.

buxton-crescent-banner
Buxton Crescent, courtesy of Buxton online.net

It is not possible to ascertain with exactness the number of company who resort to Buxton every season, but it is computed that the public buildings and private lodgings will accommodate above seven hundred persons, besides the inhabitant of the place and it is well known, that for some years past several persons have occasionally been obliged to procure lodgings in the neighbouring villages.

There are circumstance attending the use of Buxton water, of which it may not improper to take notice. When drank in considerable quantity, it is found to possess a binding and heating quality, and is productive of many feverish symptoms; with a view, however, of preventing such disagreeable effects, it is usual to recommend a gentle purgative to keep the body open. These waters in common with a great many others, are observed upon first drinking to affect the head with a sort of giddiness, attended with a sense of universal fullness and drowsiness, but after using them a few days, the sensations go off and are seldom or never perceived afterwards. The spirit is different in different waters and in most appears so extremely fugitive, that it immediately flies off when exposes to the air; all waters therefore are best whether drank at the fountain head. Pure water, as it betrays neither taste nor smell, must be admirably calculated to correct the acrimonious state of the fluids, from whatever cause it may arise, and if anything upon earth can be considered as a universal remedy, it must be water.

A uniform course of this pure element, assisted by exercise, and a proper regime of diet, will do more in some diseases than anything we know of.

Smith, John Rubens; The Crescent, Buxton, Derbyshire; Buxton Museum & Art Gallery; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-crescent-buxton-derbyshire-60625
The Crescent, Buxton, Derbyshire by John Rubens Smith, c,1837; Buxton Museum & Art Gallery

As you read on, the list of restorative properties of Buxton water reads like a ‘cure for whatever may ail you‘ everything from bilious colic to rheumatism.  The recommendation for drinking the water being somewhere in the region of 3 pints per day – ‘if your stomach can bear and the nature of the case requires it’.  The period for drinking the waters is from the beginning of April until the beginning of November.

the-baths

Bathing

The chief properties of Buxton water for bathing, which it very widely differs, from both Bath and Bristol, for in the one, the waters are too hot, and in the other too cold – Buxton being just right.

Who knew?

The poor at their bath are not only exempted from all charge, but also met with great assistance and support from the charitable contributions of the company who resort to Buxton, it being customary for every newcomer, if he stay more than one day, to give one shilling for their use, which is collected and taken care of by the ‘steward of the house’ in which he happens to lodge; and the sum raised in this way in the course of the season, has some years past been very considerable; the common weekly allowance to the poor is six shillings and should any of them be more weak and necessitous it is usual to add something more.

Travel to Buxton

post-roads

Pleasure

People not only attended Buxton for its waters, but also for leisure activities and Bott goes on to describe places worthy of a visit, including Pool’s hole (now known as Poole’s Cavern);  Castleton, Speedwell mine, Mam Torr, Matlock, Tideswell and Litton Mills, Dovedale and of course Chatsworth, home of the Duke of Devonshire.  The list of places he recommended worthy of a  visit is endless.

chats
Chatsworth House photograph taken June 2016

 

Featured Image:

Buxton Market Place, Derbyshire, unknown artist, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery