Buxton History

Buxton is the highest town in England at a height of over 1000 feet and it grew in fame primarily as a spa town, because of the beautiful pale blue water which bubbles up from thermal springs beneath the Crescent. The famous Buxton water comes from the outlets of a subterranean reservoir where the water has lain the many years, before it comes to the surface at a constant temperature of 82°F.

The health spa properties of Buxton dates back to Roman times to around AD 80 when the first baths were built. 'Aqua Arnemetiae' were thought to have been named after the Goddess of the same name. The Celts considered the springs as a sacred shrine, possibly a thousand years before the Roman occupation. The remains of which has been less excavated in the 17th and 18th centuries. Buxton has remained popular with pilgrims who wanted to take the waters for rheumatism and one such famous visitor benefited from the springs, was, who Mary Queen of Scots suffered badly from the disease.

The Old Hall Hotel was originally Buxton Hall and was built in 1550 for the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, George Talbot. He was married to Bess of Hardwick and the hall was situated right over a natural thermal spring. A hexagonal letterbox can still be seen today, the only one of its kind, and erected in 1867.

Buxton remained unchanged for a while until the 18th century when most of the development of the town began and can still be seen today, mainly thanks to the 5th Duke of Devonshire, who had a lot of money left over from his copper industry. It began with the building of the Crescent, which include the grand ballroom and assembly room, which was completed in 1788. Originally, the Crescent contained a town house to accommodate the Cavendish's, but in 1804, he gave it all and it became the Centre Hotel, with a hotel on each side of it, the Great Hotel to the East and St Anne's to the West. The hotel guests were able to use private entrances to the baths which drew in a lot of visitors as you can imagine.

In 1790, the Devonshire Royal hospital was built but originally it was used as stabling for horses. It wasn't until 1857 that a portion of stabling block was given over as a hospital and not until 1880, that the magnificent slate dome was added, the largest unsupported dome in the world at that time, with the span of 154 feet. The Palace hotel was designed by Henry Curry in 1857 and is now one of the largest hotels in the Peak District and certainly the biggest in Buxton. It was built at that time to accommodate the growing number of visitors when the coming of the railway to Buxton happened a few years later.

The Pavilion Gardens is home of the spa waters swimming pool and the Pavilion itself, a glass and iron structure, was built in 1871, carefully restored to maintain its Victorian ancestry and it houses a variety of native and tropical plants. The Serpentine Walks have been a feature of Buxton for many years and were originally landscaped by Joseph Paxton in the 19th century.

The Pump Room, which faces the Crescent, was built in 1894 and thermal water was served up here right up until 1981. Now it is possible for the public to get Buxton water from the well at the side of the Pump Room, St Anne's drinking fountain which is decorated at well dressing time.

The opera house was completed around the turn of the century and even now acts as a focal point for most of the town's entertainment and for the annual Buxton Festivals.

Buxton Churches have a page to themselves and each one has its own unique history.

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