1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Buxton

BUXTON, a market town and fashionable health-resort in the High Peak parliamentary division of Derbyshire, England, on the London & North-Western and Midland railways, 36 m. N.W. by N. of Derby. Pop. of urban district (1901) 10,181. It occupies a high position, lying between 1000 and 1150 ft. above sea-level, in an open hollow, surrounded at a distance by hills of considerable elevation, except on the south-east side, where the Wye, which rises about half a mile away, makes its exit. The old town (High Buxton) stands a little above the new, and consists of one wide street, and a considerable market-place with an old cross. The new town is the richer portion. The Crescent is a fine range of buildings in the Doric style, erected by the duke of Devonshire in 1779–1788. It contains hotels, a ballroom, a bank, a library and other establishments, and the surrounding open grounds are laid out in terraces and gardens. The Old Hall hotel at the west end of the Crescent stands on the site of the mansion built in 1572 by the earl of Shrewsbury in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, which was the residence of Mary queen of Scots when she visited the town. The mineral waters of Buxton, which have neither taste nor smell, are among the most noted in England, and are particularly efficacious in cases of rheumatism and gout. There are numerous public and private baths, the most important of which are those in the establishment at the eastern end of the Crescent. The springs supply hot and cold water at a very short distance from each other, flowing at the rate of 60 gallons a minute. The former possesses a uniform temperature of 82° Fahr., and the principal substances in solution are bicarbonate of calcium, bicarbonate of magnesium, chloride of sodium, chloride of magnesium and silica acid. There is also a chalybeate spring known as St Anne’s well, situated at the S.W. corner of the Crescent, the water of which when mixed with that of the other springs proves purgative. The Devonshire hospital, formerly known as the Bath Charity, is a benevolent institution, supported by voluntary subscriptions. Every year some thousands of poor patients are treated free of cost; and the hospital was enlarged for their accommodation, a dome being added which is of greater circumference than any other in Europe. In 1894 the duke of Devonshire erected a handsome pump-room at St Anne’s well. The Buxton season extends from June to October, and during that period the town is visited by thousands, but it is also popular as a winter resort. The Buxton Gardens are beautifully laid out, with ornamental waters, a fine opera-house, pavilion and concert hall, theatre and reading rooms. Electric lighting has been introduced, and there is an excellent golf course. The Cavendish Terrace forms a fine promenade, and the neighbourhood of the town is rich in objects of interest. Of these the chief are Poole’s Hole, a vast stalactite cave, about half a mile distant; Diamond Hill, which owes its name to the quartz crystals which are not uncommon in its rocks; and Chee Tor, a remarkable cliff, on the banks of the Wye, 300 ft. high. Ornaments are manufactured by the inhabitants from alabaster and spar; and excellent lime is burned at the quarries near Poole’s Hole. Buxton is an important centre for horse-breeding, and a large horse-fair is held annually. Although the annual rainfall, owing to the situation of the town towards the western flank of the Pennine Hills, is about 49 in., the air is particularly dry owing to the high situation and the rapidity with which waters drain off through the limestone. The climate is bracing and healthy.

The waters were known and used by the Romans, but to a limited extent, and no remains of their baths survive. Roman roads connected the place with Derby, Brough in Edale and Manchester. Buxton (Bawdestanes, Bue-stanes), formed into a civil parish from Bakewell in 1895, has thus claims to be considered one of the oldest English spas. It was probably the “Bectune” mentioned in Domesday. After the departure of the Romans the baths seem to have been long neglected, but were again frequented in the 16th century, when the chapel of St Anne was hung round with the crutches of those who were supposed to owe their cure to her healing powers; these interesting relics were destroyed at the Reformation. The baths were visited at least four times by Mary queen of Scots, when a prisoner in charge of George, earl of Shrewsbury, other famous Elizabethan visitors being Lord Burleigh, the earl of Essex, and Robert, earl of Leicester. At the close of the 18th century the duke of Devonshire, lord of the manor (whose ancestor Sir Ralph de Gernons was lord of Bakewell in 1251), spent large sums of money on improvements in the town. In 1781 he began to build the famous Crescent, and since that time Buxton has steadily increased in favour as an inland watering-place. In 1813 a weekly market on Saturday and four annual fairs were granted. These were bought by the local authorities from the duke of Devonshire in 1864.

See Gough’s edition of Camden’s Britannia; Stephen Glover, History of the County of Derby (Derby, 1829); W. Bemrose, Guide to Buxton (London, 1869).