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The Crescent

Buxton Crescent

In the late 18th century Buxton was developed as a spa by the great local landowner, the Duke of Devonshire, following the fashion of Bath and other centres. It was making vast profits from his copper mines at nearby Ecton in the Manifold Valley, which gave him the money to have paid for the building work in Buxton.

Consciously modelled on the building in Bath, the Crescent was the most famous building of its time, built for William Cavendish, the Duke of Devonshire between 1780 and 1784. It was built by John Carr, made out of locally quarried grit stone and it included a ballroom and an assembly room as well as a townhouse for the Duke and shops along the ground floor. Sadly, this magnificent building has been empty for around 20 years but there are ambitious plans undergoing as we speak to reopen it as part of the spa complex.

To the west of the crescent, the Duke built a fine circular set of stables which the sixth Duke gave to charity in 1859, to be converted into the Devonshire Royal Hospital. The architect Henry Curry, covered the circular exercise area with a huge iron frame, covered in slate, and until recently this was the largest unsupported dome in the world and is now part of the University of Derby, as the centrepiece of their Buxton campus.

Next door to the Crescent of the former thermal bathS, built between 1851 and 1853 and currently closed to visitors. The Old Hall Hotel was once the townhouse of Bess of Hardwick and her husband the Earl of Shrewsbury, the jailers of Mary Queen of Scots, where she stayed when she visited Buxton.

The Crescent is a grade 1 listed building and was once described by the Royal institution of British architects as 'more richly decorated and altogether more complex' than the Royal Crescent in Bath it was based on. It faces the site of St Anne's well, where warm spring water has flowed free for thousands of years. The well is at the foot of the slopes, a steep landscaped hillside in the centre of Buxton, where the mineral water flows a mile below ground to emerge at a constant 27.8°C.

The facade forms an arc of the circle facing south-east and it was built as a unified structure incorporating a hotel, five lodging houses and a fine painted ceiling in the Assembly room, which became the social heart of 18th century Buxton. There are on the ground floor arcade workshops, including a hair and wig dresser and kitchens were in the basement.

In 1993 with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial fund, the High Peak Borough Council purchased the Crescent to act as a temporary caretaker of the building, until a suitable buyer could be found. A further £1.5 million from English Heritage was used to make the building weather tight and the Crescent, pump rooms and natural Bath buildings were jointly marketed by the borough and county councils.

There was a scheme proposed by The Monumental Trust to convert the Crescent into flats. However, no funding was found and in December 2000 the combined councils applied to the Heritage lottery fund to finance plans to restore the Crescent as a hotel and to build new spa facilities and funding was approved in July 2003.

Since then work to develop and manage the hotel and spa has had lots of delays due to funding, technical and legal issues relating to the continued supply of water from springs beneath the buildings to Nestlé, the bottler of Buxton water.

It wasn't until April 2012 but an agreement between the joint councils and the developer to start the first phase of the project was signed and now phase 1 work of the £35 million project for a 79 bedroom, five-star hotel, natural bath, thermal mineral water spa and specialist shops, began in the summer of 2012 with final completion of the project due in the spring of 20 15.

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