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The Devonshire Dome

The Devonshire Dome was built by John Carr, of York, a prolific English architect of the late 1700's, who built it for William Cavendish, fifth Duke of Devonshire between 1780 and 1789. It's actually octagonal in shape making it very unusual for its time and it once housed up to 110 horses. It also housed the servants and guests of the nearby Crescent Hotel, built in combination as part of the plan to promote Buxton as the healing waters spa town. It is a grade 2 listed 18th-century former stable blocks, which was once the Devonshire Royal Hospital. It was later extended by architect Robert Rippon Duke, who famously added, what was then, the world's largest unsupported Dome, with a diameter of 42.2 m.

In 1859, the Buxton Bath charity persuaded the Duke to allow part of the building to be converted to a charity hospital, the Devonshire Hospital; this was for the use of the 'sick poor' coming in for treatment from areas such as Lancashire and Yorkshire. A third architect was employed who converted two thirds of the building into the hospital, Henry Curry, who was architect for St Thomas's Hospital in London, and then became the Devonshire estate architect. The charity trustees persuaded William Cavendish In 1881, to give them the use of the whole building in exchange for providing stables elsewhere in the town.

Robert Duke was then commissioned to design the 300 bed Devonshire hospital to rival Bath and Harrogate. It was to be used for charity medical provision. The steel structure was first clad in slate, and was supported by 22 curved steel arms but during the construction, the Tay Bridge disaster occurred in 1879, and a number of arms were revised upwards and railway engineer, Mr Footner, advised the builders to take into account the stresses of lateral wind storms. The clock tower and large were completed in 1882 and surgical wards were added in 1897, and spa bath in 1913 and the building became known as the Devonshire Royal Hospital in 1934. It was the last of the eight hydropathic hospitals in England to close, when it shut down its doors in 2000.

The Dome, with its 44 column, 145ft diameter colonnade supporting the 562 ton roof, is architecturally stunning and is now one of Buxton's most famous landmarks. The dome is now a campus for both the University and Buxton College and offers a warm welcome to members of the public who would like to see this remarkable grade 2 listed building. The cafe provides an informal setting for light snacks and luncheons, and offers a good selection of freshly prepared, main courses with some cooked on 'live action' stations so the audience can see how it's done by the students. Visitors are also invited to use the spa and hair salon, where because these are all student training facilities, they are not only valued customers, but they also become part of the students learning experiences.

Visitors can book a table in fine dining restaurant set within the breathtaking backdrop of the Devonshire Dome. It has a first-class reputation for outstanding food and service which is provided by the students under the watchful eye of their tutors midweek and their newly appointed award-winning head chef at the weekends.