The Wonders of the Peak

Derbyshire's Peak District is famous for the beauty of its natural landscape. Here we explore the original seven 'Wonders of the Peak' as described by philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

Thomas Hobbes (1665) by J B Caspar and W HollarDerbyshire Record Office

De Mirabilibus Pecci

In 1636, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes published 'De Mirabilibus Pecci: Being the Wonders of the Peak in Darby-Shire'.  Of his seven wonders, six are natural wonders: caverns, wells and a hill, and one is man-made.  Here are the wonders as Hobbes described them.

St Ann's Well, The Crescent, Buxton (1880) by UnknownDerbyshire Record Office

1. St Ann's Well in Buxton

Unto St. Ann the Fountain sacred is: 
With waters hot and cold its sources rise,
And in its Sulphur-veins there’s med'cine lies.
This cures the palsied members of the old.
And cherishes the nerves grown stiff and cold.

Ebbing and Flowing Well, Derbyshire (1920-10-27) by S BaddleyDerbyshire Record Office

2. The Ebbing and Flowing Well

A thousand paces off, a fount doth rise.
From the low caverns of a grassie hill;
With double mouth its waters gushing still.
Which since the admir'd flux of the greater sea
Doth by report in its small channel play

Map of Derbyshire (1724) by Herman MollDerbyshire Record Office

3. Poole's Cavern in Buxton

One thing remained, but highly worth our view,
Pool's hole, a cave so called and near us too.
Pool was a famous thief, and as we're told
Equal to Cacus, and perchance as old.
Shrowded within this darksome hid retrieve
By spoils of those he robbed, he used to live

The Peak Cavern, Derbyshire (1790) by Edward DayesDerbyshire Record Office

4. Peak Cavern in Castleton

A noble Cave between two rocks appears,
Unto the sun unknown, but to the stars
Fearing to be immerg'd, and both the bears
Turn'd, it its mouth with horrour does present:
Just like a furnace, or as Hell they paint,
Swallowing with open jawes the damned croud

Postcard of Chatsworth House (1910) by UnknownDerbyshire Record Office

5. Chatsworth House near Bakewell

On the English Alps, where Darbies Peak doth rise,
High up in hills, that emulate the skies,
And largely waters all the vales below,
With rivers that still plentifully flow,
Doth Chatsworth by swift Derwins Channel stand
Fam'd for its Pile, and Lord, for both are grand

Mam Tor, Castleton (1980/1990) by D D BrumheadDerbyshire Record Office

6. Mam Tor near Castleton

Got out, as is the pole a Mountain tall
Lifts up his head, like an old ruin'd Wall
Ready made weak by breaches now to fall.
Tis said eternally the Sand falls down,
Without the hills least diminution;

Cavers above Eldon Hole, Derbyshire (1910) by UnknownDerbyshire Record Office

7. Eldon Hole near Castleton

...the stone
We drop, which circled in thick mist is thrown.
Against a rock, the cavern groans the while,
Loud sighs are vented from the shaken pile.
from rock to rock, the sound goes downward still,
Less heard by us but the more heard by Hell

Title page for 'De Mirabilibus Pecci being the Wonders of the Peak in Darby-Shire' (1678) by Thomas HobbesDerbyshire Record Office

Hobbes' book has been reprinted many times.  Its wonders remain popular attractions today, 400 years after his book was first published.

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