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Buxton, Derbyshire

Historical Description

Buxton, a small town, a township, and a chapelry, in Derbyshire. The town stands in a valley, at an elevation of 1000 feet above the level of the sea, almost environed by lofty hills, near the source of the river Wye, and is the terminus of a branch-line from the Manchester and Macclesfield railway, also the terminus of the Ambergate Junction branch of the Midland railway, 12 miles E of Macclesfield, and 12 WNW of Bakewell. It was formerly called Badestanes, Bawkestanes, and Buckstones. It possesses great medicinal springs, and has long been famed for them. It seems to have been known to the Druids, and it certainly was known to the Romans. Cromlechs and Druidical circles occur on the heights in its neighbourhood; three Roman roads, with branches, went from it; Roman coins and tiles have been found here; a Roman station, with baths, is believed by most antiquaries to have been on its site; Saxon barrows, in which interesting relics have been found, are near it; and shrines, with baths, images, and offerings made by devotees resorting to it for health, were here for ages preceding the Reformation. The shrines and baths were destroyed by an emissary of Henry VIII., but the latter were speedily restored. Mary Queen of Scots, while in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury, came hither four times for health; Lord Burleigh and the Duke of Sussex came in 1577 and 1580; and other personages of note soon followed, giving the place a permanent celebrity. The third Earl of Devonshire, in 1670, enlarged a house which had been built for Queen Mary, which is now known as the Old Hall Hotel. Buxton was then a mere hamlet, but it thence grew steadily to be first a village and then a town. A pile of buildings, called the Crescent, was erected by the Duke of Devonshire in 1780, at a cost of £120,000. This has a frontage of 316 feet, consisting of two wings 58 feet each, and an intermediate curve of 200 feet; is three storeys high, and includes two hotels and several shops. The basement storey forms an arcade; the upper part is adorned with Doric pilasters, entablature, and balustrade, and the ground in front is laid out in beautiful terraces. The Devonshire Hospital, a charitable institution, is covered with a dome said to be the largest in the world; the upper storeys are used as wards for invalids. All old buildings near the Crescent have disappeared, and have been replaced with large residences and shops, now called Eagle Parade, and one of the finest places in the town.

The waters of Buxton have been much recommended by eminent physicians, and warmly sung by several poets. They rise in springs both tepid and cold, within 12 inches of each other, and are clear, and of a pale blue colour. This mineral water is found to be specially beneficial in cases of rheumatism, or nervous affections, such as neuralgia, sciatica, and tic-doloreux. The public baths are very complete, and comprise every variety of bath fitted up with every convenience. An analysis of them by Lord Playfair shows per gallon, 0.666 grain of silica, 0.24 of oxide of iron and alumina, 7.773 of carbonate of lime, 2.323 of sulphate of lime, 4.543 of carbonate of magnesia, 0.114 of chloride of magnesium, 2.42 of chloride of sodium, 2.5 of chloride of potassium, a trace of fluorine, and a trace of phosphoric acid, and is surcharged with nitrogen gas. Two elegant buildings, covered and lighted with roofs of glass, adjoin the ends of the Crescent, the one for hot baths, the other for natural baths; and a new erection, in room of an old one, called St Anne's Well, is in front of the Crescent, for the use of drinkers. The town can accommodate about 12,000 visitors at a time, and is usually well filled during the season (May till October). It has a head post office, two railway stations, several good hotels, a town-hall public free library, and court-house erected in 1888-89 on the site of the old market-hall, a police station, a Liberal club, and five annual fairs; is a seat of petty sessions, and publislies three weekly newspapers. A trade is carried on in the manufacture and sale of ornaments in alabaster and other minerals. Important sewage works were constructed in 1885-86. There are four churches: one is old, and was restored in 1885; another, a structure of 1812, in the Tuscan style, with a neat tower; another, which serves as a chapel of ease to the parish church, was erected about 1870; and a fourth, erected in 1883. There are Congregational, Wesleyan, Primitive Methodist, and Unitarian chapels, also Roman Catholic and Catholic Apostolic churches; a school, founded in 1675, with increasing income from endowment; the Devonshire Hospital and Bath Charity for invalids, maintained by subscription; a sanatorium and several large hydropathic establishments. Walks, rides, and natural curiosities, of an interesting character, are in the neighbourhood. Public gardens were formed in 1871 by the Buxton Improvement Company, Limited, out of 12 acres of land given by the Duke of Devonshire, and were enlarged in 1878 and 1884, and now include a large lake. The river Wye runs through the gardens and forms small lakelets and artificial cascades. A pavilion of iron and glass has been erected, to which important additions have recently been made, providing ample accommodation for concerts, balls, dramatic performances, with a large covered promenade. There are also reading and news-rooms, a skating rink, and lawn tennis grounds. A further piece of land, about 3½ acres in extent, adjoining the gardens, was presented to the town by the Duke of Devonshire in 1890. The Duke's Drive is a circuit of about 2 miles, through Ashwood-dale. A splendid walk goes by Topley Pike, along and across the Wye, and over cliffs to Chee Tor. This is a mass of rocks, 300 feet high, covered lightly with foliage and presenting a delightful view. Poole's Hole, about a mile from the town, is a cavern, with stalactites and stalagmites in grotesque forms and of fantastic names, one of them traditionally associated with a visit of Mary Queen of Scots. Diamond Hill, not far from Poole's Hole, affords beautiful specimens of quartz crystal, and commands a brilliant view. Other caverns, vales, and mountains of fascinating character, in fact all the attractions of the Derby Peak and of some tracts beyond, are within easy distance. Some of the railway works also, on the lines leading to the town and near it-tunnels, viaducts, and cuttings-are very striking. Area of the urban sanitary district, which includes part of Buxton, Hartington, Upper Quarter, Fail-field, and Femilee, 1189 acres; population, 7540; area of the township, 1823 acres; population, 4658; population of the ecclesiastical parish, 4473.

The manor belongs to the Duke of Devonshire. The living of the parish church is a vicarage in the diocese of South-well; gross value, £430 with residence. Patron, the Duke of Devonshire.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Administration

The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyDerbyshire 
Civil parishBakewell 
HundredHigh Peak 
Poor Law unionChapel-en-le-Frith 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.


Church Records

The Phillimore transcript of Marriages at Buxton 1718-1837, Derbyshire, is available to browse online.

Ancestry.co.uk, in conjunction with the Derbyshire Record Office, have the Church of England Baptisms (1538-1916), Marriages and Banns (1538-1932), and Burials (1538-1991) online.


Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Buxton from the following:


Land and Property

A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Derbyshire is online.


Maps

Online maps of Buxton are available from a number of sites:


Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Derbyshire papers online:

DistrictHigh Peak
CountyDerbyshire
RegionEast Midlands
CountryEngland
Postal districtSK17
Post TownBuxton