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Buxton Architecture

There are only a handful of towns in the north of England which can boast such a varied and diverse architectural landscape as Buxton. The history of the town goes back through the centuries and it can be plainly seen in the shapes and styles of houses, public buildings, bars and hotels. Buxton heritage was moulded and shaped by wealthy residents, the Dukes of Devonshire and the Church. There is a real mix of 18th century, Victorian opulence, Romanesque and Vernacular styles, there are some amazing early examples of arts and crafts. Architects such as Carr, Paxton and Bryden are now names synonymous with the town.

The Crescent made Buxton famous and it gave the town its fame as a spa town. Filled with pale blue water which bubbles up underneath from the elusive thermal springs, the outlets come from a subterranean reservoir. The warm waters, which are a constant temperature of 82°F lay for many years before arriving at the surface. Dating back to Roman times, the health spa brought settlers here around 80 AD, who built the baths, the remains of which were excavated in the 17th and 18th centuries. For hundreds of years later, Buxton became popular with pilgrims who wanted to take the waters and it's said that Mary Queen of Scots suffered badly from rheumatism and visited often to soothe her aches and pains. The fifth Duke of Devonshire made money from his copper mines and in the 18th century developed the town and built the Crescent, including a ballroom and an assembly room, which was completed in 1788. Originally containing a townhouse for the Duke, by 1804 he relinquished his accommodation and it became The Centre Hotel with a hotel on each side, Great Hotel to the East and St Ann's to the West. The Pump Room faces the Crescent and was built in 1894 with thermal water served here until 1981. The public can sample the water now from the drinking fountain next, St Anne's Well, which is decorated at well dressing time.

The Serpentine walks have been a feature of Buxton for many years and were originally landscaped by Joseph Paxton in the 19th century. The Devonshire Royal hotel was built in 1790 originally stabling for horses and the 1857 portion stabling block was given over as a hospital once upon a time. The magnificent slate dome was added in 1880 and that the time was the largest supported dome in the world, with the span of 154 feet which has now become part of Derby University.

Buxton Opera House was designed by Frank Matcham, one of Britain's finest theatre architects and was built in 1903.  Touring companies were welcomed until the theatre was turned into a cinema in 1927. Festivals continued during wartime. Through the late 40s, 50s and 60s, it remained a cinema with only local amateur performances and pantomimes providing any links to live performance. It was lovingly restored in the late 1970s and given another boost in the late 1990s, a £1.9 million programme of external and internal restoration was undertaken and the theatre was restored to its original 1903 glory and is sold out nearly every performance.

There are lots of Buxton churches, but two are really spectacular with their architectural splendour,  St John the Baptist, built in the Italianiate style with a massive portico and cupola and St Ann's  church is the oldest building in Buxton and dates back to at least 1625.

The Palace hotel is now the largest hotel in Buxton and was designed by Henry Currey in 1867. The Pavilion Gardens lie on the banks of the Wye and are home to the Spa Swimming Pool. The Pavilion itself is a stunning glass and iron structure and was built in 1874, and been carefully restored to maintain its Victorian feel and houses a variety of tropical and native plants.

Buxton Hall is now the Old Hall and was built by the sixth Earl of Shrewsbury, George Talbot, who was married to Bess of Hardwick in 1550. It is situated over a natural spring, the warm mineral waters with the reason for Buxton's origin and it was the site of the Roman Bath thought to be named after the Celtic water goddess, Arnemetiae. The Celts considered the spring a sacred shine, and visited possibly 1000 years or more before the Roman occupation. Close by is the Victorian letterbox, hexagonal in shape and erected in 1867, quite unique to the Peak District.

Buxton architecture is diverse and different spans the ages and is certainly worth admiring.