|Town or city||Matlock, Derbyshire|
|Official name||Riber Castle|
|Designated||22 June 1950|
Riber Castle is a 19th-century Grade II listed country house in the hamlet of Riber on a hill overlooking Matlock, Derbyshire. It is built of gritstone from a local quarry which was pulled up the 200-metre (660 ft) hill by a series of pulleys.
Known locally as "Smedley's Folly" because of the difficulty of getting water to the hill summit, it was built by the industrialist John Smedley in 1862 as his private home. His wife lived in it until her death in 1892.After the death of Smedley's wife, the castle became a boys' prep school until this became financially unsustainable in the 1930s. The architectural historian John Summerson attended the school in the early 20th century. While he enjoyed his time at the school, the building's architecture had lesser appeal; he described the castle as "an object of indecipherable bastardy – a true monster". With the coming of World War II the Ministry of Defence used the site for food storage. The MoD left following the war and the castle remained unused until the 1960s.
From the 1960s to September 2000 it was home to a wildlife park, containing British and European fauna. Riber Castle Wildlife Park, or Riber Zoo as it was known, was eventually sold by the owner. The original owners sold the wildlife Park as a going concern. The subsequent owners were criticised heavily for the treatment of the animals kept there, and the closure was not without controversy. The original owners bred lynx which were later released in a European mountain range.
This section needs to be updated.(September 2021)
Plans to turn the shell into apartments received planning consent on 15 March 2006. The castle walls have now been secured, chimneys and floors rebuilt, 119 windows replaced and a roof added. It was expected that two show apartments would be ready some time in 2014. Access to the site before 2006 was securely restricted, until the perimeter fence was unwired to provide unrestricted access to the site, which later became a commonly used footpath. However, recently developers have added a second (more secure) fence, boarded up all entrance points and have security personnel onsite.
In popular culture
- Historic England. "Riber Castle (Grade II) (1248137)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
- "Riber Castle". Derbyshire Guide. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
- "Riber Castle – Urban Desertion". Urban Desertion. Archived from the original on 2 May 2006. Retrieved 1 June 2007.
- "John Summerson: Historian – Blue Plaques". English Heritage. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
- Hartwell, Pevsner & Williamson 2016, p. 570.
- "Riber Castle: Empty Gothic castle turned into flats". BBC News. 12 March 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
- Hawley, Z. (2 January 2013). "From brooding landmark to des res with a view, castle is coming to life". Derby Telegraph. Retrieved 25 July 2016.[permanent dead link]
- "Dead Man's Shoes (2004): Filming Locations". IMDb. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
- Hartwell, Claire; Pevsner, Nikolaus; Williamson, Elizabeth (2016). Derbyshire. The Buildings Of England. New Haven, US and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-21559-5.
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