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The ruin of Riber Castle, built by John Smedley in 1862, dominates the town of Matlock as it is perched on the edge of the hill above Starkholmes, very high up. Built very quickly, the castle was constructed of massive blocks of local gritstone taken from a quarry near the castle and Smedley was the sole architect. Smedley employed skilled craftsmen. Plasterers, for example, came from Italy to work on the Castle. The walls present a barren facade outside, whilst in contrast the inside was alive with absurd ornament. The building plan revolved around a central saloon, whose most outstanding feature was a zig-zag balustrade of pierced metal. Some of the ceramic tiles used were made by Maw & Co. Two arches spanned the room, supporting gas chandeliers which had glass bells hanging over each jet. Seating in the saloon was arranged around the walls in 'open boxes', while the furniture included many vases, mirrors, portraits of the Smedleys, an American organ and a bagatelle table. There was electricity and gas, plus a deep well for water. John Smedley was the owner of the largest hydropathic establishment in Matlock. Smedley's father had operated a hosiery business at Lea Mills, which is close to Florence Nightingales house at Lea Hurst. The business was not prospering, until at the age of 24 John took over, and by adapting the firm's outdated machinery, transformed the business. By 1846, he had become wealthy enough to marry Caroline Harvard, the daughter of the vicar of Wirksworth. Whilst on honeymoon in Switzerland the unlucky John Smedley caught a cold, which developed into typhus fever. On his return to England he discovered that the doctors could not help him. In desperation he travelled to Yorkshire to Dr Macleod's hydropathic institution. The 'water cure' miraculously worked and John quickly recovered . With his recovery, and the realisation that he had been close to death, he found a new awakening to religion, and he also begun to see the means of his salvation, water. For the rest of his life the twin obsessions of religion and water guided him. Smedley returned to Derbyshire and built chapels, where he preached against the evils of drink and pleasures of the flesh. At his factory be introduced morning prayers and the sick were subjects of his first experiment in hydropathy. He had some small success and secured a position as a medical advisor to a hydro at Matlock Bath. Within two years he had bought the Hydro. Riber cost Smedley £60,000. It was intended to be his home, and a guest house for some of the more distinguished visitors to the Hydro. Following John's death in 1874, Caroline Smedley endured Riber's inconveniences until her own death in 1892. Impractical as a private residence, it was sold as used as a Food Ministry Store, and a School c 1900's-20's. The school was owned by a Reverend John William Chippett, previously of Harrogate. In 1936 it was bought by Matlock Urban District Council for £1,500. When the British Fauna Reserve bought it from the Council in 1963, it had fallen into such disrepair that its price had dropped to £500. They developed it as a nature reserve for rare British Farm animals and European wildlife, open to the public. The nature reserve is closed now. On the hillside below Riber, Starkholmes overlooks Matlock Bath, but is only connected to that village by a steep footpath near the railway station. The footpath and the land on either side of it is the only access to Matlock Bath from that side of the valley and a footbridge over the River Derwent is at the lower end of the path. In July 1882 a resolution was passed to construct a road between Starkholmes and Matlock Bath, but this has never been implemented. There is a steep road (Riber Road) connecting Starkholmes with the hamlet of Riber.