|Buxton lies just outside the National Park boundaries, but is the most important town for most of the western and central Peak. The town is situated in a natural bowl on the boundary between the gritstone and limestone areas and the River Wye has had to carve a gorge through the limestone to find an exit to the South East. At 300m above sea level the town is the highest town of its size in England.|
The site has been occupied continuously since at least Roman times, when a fort and settlement called Aquae Arnemetiae was established here, probably on the high ground between the market place and the bluff which overlooks the river by the police station. As well as its strategic situation, the Romans were attracted to the site by the warm springs which emerge near the River Wye with a constant temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. They built baths here and for the following centuries these springs have been a major source of importance and income for Buxton.
Inside the former Thermal Baths
The spring at St Ann's well was probably a place of pilgrimage as early as the Middle Ages, but certainly by Tudor times it was fairly well established as a spa and in Elizabeth I's time it was visited for this purpose by The Earl of Leicester, Lord Burghley and no less than Mary Queen of Scots, who was being held captive by the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife Bess of Hardwick at nearby Chatsworth.
The great period of Buxton as a spa began when the 5th Duke of Devonshire started the construction of the Crescent in 1780. This magnificent building took ten years to build and was constructed over the river alongside the site of St Ann's well. It cost the huge sum of £38,000. From this time until the early 20th century a series of fine buildings were constructed in Buxton, starting with the Duke's stables in 1785 - this was converted to a hospital in the 1880s and a huge dome erected over the exercise area in the centre. In 1851-3 a new set of thermal baths were built, but in 1863 the railway arrived in Buxton to usher in its golden age.
The town boomed now that access was easy. Large hotels were built, (of which only The Palace now survives), the Opera House was constructed as was the Pavilion Gardens. Fashionable town houses sprang up and the town expanded to almost its present limits. This period is best captured by Vera Brittan's 'Testament of Youth', which recounts her childhood experiences in Buxton.
Buxton Opera House
At the same time limestone quarrying became a major industry in the immediate area and the stone and associated lime products were easily transported by railway from Buxton across the country. Quarrying continues to be a major local industry.
After the First World War, the spa industry went into a gradual decline and by the 1950s Buxton was a backwater. Recovery began in the 1980s with the reopening of the Opera House and the establishment of the annual Opera Festival. More recently the University of Derby moved into the former Devonshire Royal Hospital building and an ambitious project has begun to reopen the spa and The Crescent.
The town has a full range of shops, centred around a shopping arcade built over the culverted River Wye, just off Spring Gardens. There is a market every Tuesday and Saturday. The town's tourist information centre is in the Pavilion Gardens building, behind the Opera House. Telephone: 01298 25106, fax: 01298 73153.
Other things to see in Buxton include the Museum and Poole's Cavern and Grin Low Country Park. Buxton has a well-dressing and carnival which starts on the second Sunday in July. The annual Festival is in mid-late July (information on 01298 70395). The Opera House box office: 01298 72190. The Festival also sports and Edinburgh-like Fringe Festival and continues to grow in popularity.
Buxton Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
0 - Buxton's Edwardian Opera House
1 - Pavilion Gardens - The Octagon
2 - Pavilion Gardens - View across the boating lake
3 - Pavilion Gardens - the River Wye and Bandstand
4 - Pavilion Gardens - Inside the hot house
5 - Pavilion Gardens - View across the gardens
6 - Pavilion Gardens - The minature train
7 - Buxton Museum
8 - Buxton - inside the old Thermal Baths
9 - Pavilion Gardens - the Octagon and the River Wye
10 - Buxton Crescent
11 - Buxton Crescent in snow
12 - Buxton Old Hall Hotel
13 - Buxton - St Johns church
14 - Buxton - St Anns well
15 - Buxton - the former Devonshire Hospital, now Derby University
16 - Buxton Palace Hotel
17 - Buxton - Pooles Cavern
18 - Buxton view from Grin Low
19 - Buxton - Grin Low - Solomons Temple
20 - Axe Edge view down the Upper Dove valley
Useful local links:Buxton Festival The annual opera, music and arts festival in Buxton.
Buxton Festival Fringe A guide to fringe events at Buxton Festival.
Buxton Opera House Buxton Opera House offer a full range of cultural events.
Buxton Gilbert and Sullivan Festival The country's (if not the world's) leading festival of Gilbert and Sullivan music.
Buxton Weather Station An enthusiast's Buxton Weather station.
Saint Peters Church, Fairfield St Peter's is one of the Anglical churches in Buxton.
Electric Bikes from Eco Republic Eco Republic sell electric bikes and other 'green' products from their shop in central Buxton
Introduction to Buxton Video A video showing the attractions of Buxton and the Buxton Festival
Discover Buxton Tours of Buxton including bus and tram rides around the town.
Local places of interest
Buxton Crescent in the Derbyshire Peak District, is one of the finest Georgian buildings in England. The nearby Buxton Opera House is Frank Matcham's masterpiece and the former Devonshire Hospital has the largest unsupported dome in Europe.
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Buxton, Derbyshire, is housed in the former Peak Hotel and has an excellent display on the history of the Peak District as well as an Art Gallery and the Boyd Dawkins collection.
Buxton's Pavilion Gardens
Pavilion Gardens lie behind the Opera House in Buxton, Derbyshire. Built by Edward Milner in 1871, with the River Wye, the Octagon building, a bandstand and a railway.
Poole's Cavern and Grin Low Country Park
Poole's Cavern and Grin Low Country Park, Buxton, Derbyshire, on the edge of the Peak District. An interesting cavern, occupied from Roman times and before, with a country park which leads up to Solomon's Temple.
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