Buxton facts for kids

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Buxton
Buxtontown.jpg
Buxton town centre
Buxton shown within Derbyshire
Population 22,215 (2011 Census)
OS grid reference SK059735
District
  • High Peak
Shire county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BUXTON
Postcode district SK17
Dialling code 01298
Police Derbyshire
Fire Derbyshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament
  • High Peak
List of places
UK
England
DerbyshireCoordinates: 53°15′32″N 1°54′40″W / 53.259°N 1.911°W / 53.259; -1.911

Buxton is a spa town in Derbyshire, England. It has the highest elevation—about 300 metres (980 ft) above sea level—of any market town in England. Close to the county boundary with Cheshire to the west and Staffordshire to the south, Buxton is described as "the gateway to the Peak District National Park". A municipal borough until 1974, Buxton was then merged with other localities lying primarily to the north, including Glossop, to form the local government district and borough of High Peak within the county of Derbyshire. Economically, Buxton is within the sphere of influence of Greater Manchester. The population of the town was 22,115 at the 2011 Census.

Buxton is home to Poole's Cavern, an extensive limestone cavern open to the public, and St Ann's Well, fed by the geothermal spring bottled and sold internationally by Buxton Mineral Water Company. Also in the town is the Buxton Opera House, which hosts several music and theatre festivals each year. The Devonshire Campus of the University of Derby is housed in one of the town's historic buildings.

Buxton is twinned with two towns: Oignies in France and Bad Nauheim in Germany.

History

Roman settlement

The Romans developed a settlement known as Aquae Arnemetiae (or the spa of the goddess of the grove). The discovery of coins indicates that the Romans were in Buxton throughout their occupation. The origins of the town's name are uncertain. It may be derived from the Old English for Buck Stone or for Rocking Stone. The town grew in importance in the late 18th century when it was developed by the Dukes of Devonshire, with a resurgence a century later as the Victorians were drawn to the reputed healing properties of the waters.

Spa town boom

055383 st anns well
People filling up bottles with water at St Ann's Well
Buxton wells
Buxton Wells, from a 1610 map

Built on the River Wye, and overlooked by Axe Edge Moor, Buxton has a history as a spa town due to its geothermal spring which rises at a constant temperature of 28 °C. The spring waters are piped to St Ann's Well (a shrine to St. Anne since medieval times) opposite the Crescent near the town centre.

The Dukes of Devonshire have been closely involved with Buxton since 1780, when the 5th Duke used the profits from his copper mines to develop the town as a spa in the style of Bath. Their ancestor Bess of Hardwick had taken one of her four husbands, the Earl of Shrewsbury, to "take the waters" at Buxton shortly after he became the gaoler of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1569, and they took Mary there in 1573. She called Buxton "La Fontagne de Bogsby", and stayed at the site of the Old Hall Hotel. The area features in the poetry of W. H. Auden and the novels of Jane Austen and Emily Brontë.

Instrumental in the popularity of Buxton was the recommendation by Erasmus Darwin of the waters at Buxton and Matlock to Josiah Wedgwood I. The Wedgwood family often went to Buxton on holiday and recommended the area to their friends. Two of Charles Darwin's half-cousins, Edward Levett Darwin and Reginald Darwin, settled there. The arrival of the railway in 1863 stimulated the town's growth: the population of 1,800 in 1861 had grown to over 6,000 by 1881.

Each summer the wells are decorated according to the local tradition of well dressing. The well dressing weekend has developed into a town carnival with live music and funfair. In 2013, the Academy of Urbanism named Buxton as one of the three most attractive towns in Britain.

Buxton Spring Gardens, 1965
A thriving Buxton in 1965 with shoppers and tourists filling Spring Gardens

Geography and geology

Built on the boundary of the Lower Carboniferous limestone and the Upper Carboniferous shale, sandstone and gritstone, the early settlement (of which only the parish church of St Anne, built in 1625, remains) was largely of limestone construction

At the southern edge of the town the River Wye has carved an extensive limestone cavern, known as Poole's Cavern. More than 330 yards (300 metres) of its chambers are open to the public. The cavern contains Derbyshire's largest stalactite and there are unique 'poached egg' stalagmites. A notorious local highwayman called Poole gave the cavern its name.

Climate

At about 300 metres (980 ft) above sea level, Buxton is the highest market town in England. Due to this relatively high elevation, Buxton tends to be cooler than surrounding towns, with daytime temperature typically around 2 °C lower than Manchester. A Met Office weather station has collected climate date for the town since 1908, with digitized data from 1959 available online. In June 1975, the town was hit by a freak snowstorm that stopped play during a cricket match.

Climate data for Buxton, elevation: 289m (1981-2010) Extremes (1959 - present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.0
(55.4)
15.3
(59.5)
20.0
(68)
23.9
(75)
25.2
(77.4)
29.0
(84.2)
31.0
(87.8)
32.7
(90.9)
25.5
(77.9)
21.1
(70)
15.7
(60.3)
13.7
(56.7)
32.7
(90.9)
Average high °C (°F) 5.2
(41.4)
5.3
(41.5)
7.7
(45.9)
10.5
(50.9)
14.2
(57.6)
16.8
(62.2)
18.9
(66)
18.5
(65.3)
15.5
(59.9)
11.6
(52.9)
8.0
(46.4)
5.5
(41.9)
11.5
(52.7)
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.9
(37.2)
2.8
(37)
4.7
(40.5)
6.9
(44.4)
10.1
(50.2)
12.9
(55.2)
15.0
(59)
14.6
(58.3)
12.1
(53.8)
8.8
(47.8)
5.6
(42.1)
3.2
(37.8)
8.3
(46.9)
Average low °C (°F) 0.5
(32.9)
0.2
(32.4)
1.7
(35.1)
3.2
(37.8)
5.9
(42.6)
8.9
(48)
11.0
(51.8)
10.7
(51.3)
8.7
(47.7)
5.9
(42.6)
3.1
(37.6)
0.8
(33.4)
5.1
(41.2)
Record low °C (°F) -14.4
(6.1)
-13.3
(8.1)
-11.1
(12)
-8.0
(17.6)
-2.9
(26.8)
-0.4
(31.3)
2.2
(36)
2.5
(36.5)
-0.6
(30.9)
-6.2
(20.8)
-9.3
(15.3)
-14.0
(6.8)
−14.4
(6.1)
Precipitation mm (inches) 136.5
(5.374)
100.4
(3.953)
113.7
(4.476)
89.9
(3.539)
77.1
(3.035)
90.4
(3.559)
87.8
(3.457)
100.1
(3.941)
107.3
(4.224)
147.1
(5.791)
133.4
(5.252)
145.7
(5.736)
1,329.4
(52.339)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 17.0 13.6 15.5 12.6 11.9 12.6 12.7 13.5 12.7 16.2 16.3 16.4 171.0
Sunshine hours 41.2 63.1 93.8 140.2 180.2 166.4 178.5 167.6 123.8 91.4 51.0 37.7 1,334.8
Source #1: Met Office
Source #2: KNMI

Notable architecture

With the increasing popularity of Buxton's thermal waters in the 18th and 19th centuries, a number of buildings were commissioned to provide for the hospitality of tourists retreating to the town.

The Old Hall Hotel is one of the oldest buildings in Buxton. It was owned by the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, George Talbot. He and his wife, Bess of Hardwick, were the "gaolers" of Mary, Queen of Scots. She came to Buxton several times to take the waters, the last time in 1584. The present building dates from 1670 and has a five-bay front with a Tuscan doorway.

Buxtoncres1
Buxton Crescent and St Ann's Well

The Crescent was built between 1780 and 1784, modelled on Bath's Royal Crescent by John Carr along with the neighbouring irregular octagon and colonnade of the Great Stables. The Crescent features a grand assembly room with a fine painted ceiling. Nearby stands the elegant and imposing monument to Samuel Turner (1805–1878), treasurer of the Devonshire Hospital and Buxton Bath Charity, built in 1879 and accidentally lost for the latter part of the 20th century during construction work before being found and restored in 1994. The Crescent has been unoccupied for many years, but plans are in place for it to be converted into a hotel.

View from Hall Bank to Corbar
Corbar Hill and the Dome

The neighbouring Great Stables were completed in 1789, but in 1859 were largely converted to a charity hospital for the 'sick poor' by Henry Currey, architect to the 7th Duke of Devonshire and previously of St Thomas' Hospital in London. It became known as the Devonshire Royal Hospital in 1934. Later phases of the conversion following 1881 were by local architect Robert Rippon Duke including his design for The Devonshire Dome, which was the world's largest unsupported dome with a diameter of 144 feet (44 m), larger than the Pantheon at 141 feet (43 m), St Peter's Basilica at 138 feet (42 m) in Rome, and St Paul's Cathedral at 112 feet (34 m). The record was surpassed by space frame domes such as the Georgia Dome (840 feet (260 m)). The building and its surrounding Victorian villas are now part of the University of Derby.

Currey also designed The Natural Mineral Baths, opened in 1854 on the site of the original Roman baths, and The Pump Room, built in 1884 opposite The Crescent. The Natural Baths feature a barrel vaulted stained glass canopy — the largest stained glass window in Britain — designed by Brian Clarke, and were re-developed as an arcade in 1987. Visitors could 'take the waters' at The Pump Room until 1981. Between 1981 and 1995 the building housed the unique Micrarium Exhibition. The building is being refurbished as part of the National Lottery-funded Buxton Crescent and Thermal Spa re-development. Beside it, added in 1940, is St Ann's Well.

When the railways arrived in Buxton in 1863, Buxton railway station was opened under the design of Joseph Paxton, previously gardener and architect to William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire. Paxton also designed the layout of the Park Road circular estate; he is perhaps most famous for his design of the Crystal Palace in London.

Other architecture

  • Buxton Opera House was designed by Frank Matcham in 1903 and is the highest opera house in the country. Matcham was a prolific theatrical architect who designed several London theatres, including the London Palladium, the London Coliseum and the Hackney Empire. The opera house is attached to the Pavilion Gardens, Octagonal Hall (built in 1875) and the smaller Pavilion Arts Centre (see below). The Pavilion Gardens, designed by Edward Milner, contain 93,000 m² of gardens and ponds and were opened in 1871. Opposite is an original Penfold octagonal post box.
  • The Pavilion Gardens, by Jeffry Wyattville.
  • The 122-room Palace Hotel, built in 1868, is a prominent feature of the Buxton skyline on the hill above the railway station. It was also designed by Currey.
Corbar Cross Buxton 2008
Corbar Cross
  • The town is overlooked by two landmarks. Atop Grinlow Hill, 1,441 feet (439 m) above sea level, is Grinlow Tower (locally also called "Solomon's Temple"), a two-storey granite, crooked, crenelated folly built in 1834 by Solomon Mycock to provide work for the town's unemployed and restored in 1996 after a lengthy closure to the public. In the other direction, on Corbar Hill, 1,433 feet (437 m) above sea level, is Corbar Cross, a tall, wooden cross. Originally given to the Roman Catholic Church by the Duke of Devonshire in 1950 to commemorate Holy Year, it was replaced in the 1980s. In 2010, during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the UK, it was cut down as a protest against a long history of child abuse at the Catholic St Williams School in Market Weighton, Yorkshire. The Buxton ecumenical group Churches Together organised several benefactors who replaced the cross with a smaller cross in May 2011.

Culture

BuxtonOperaHouse
Opera House, Buxton

Cultural events include the annual Buxton Festival, among other festivals and performances held in the Buxton Opera House, with shows running at other venues alongside this. Buxton Museum & Art Gallery offers year-round exhibitions.

Buxton Festival

The Buxton Festival, founded in 1979, is an opera and arts festival that runs for about three weeks in July at various venues including the Opera House. The programme includes literary events in the mornings, concerts and recitals in the afternoon, and operas, many of them rarely performed, in the evenings. There has been an increase in the quality of the operatic programme in recent years, after decades when, according to critic Rupert Christiansen, the festival featured "work of such mediocre quality that I just longed for someone to put it out of its misery." Running alongside it is the Buxton Festival Fringe, known as a warm-up for the Edinburgh Fringe. The Buxton fringe features drama, music, dance, comedy, poetry, art exhibitions and films in various venues around the town. In 2014 there were nearly 600 events from over 150 entrants.

Other festivals

The week-long Four Four Time music festival is held every February and features a variety of rock, pop, folk, blues, jazz and world music. The International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, a three-week theatre festival from the end of July through most of August, was held in Buxton from 1994 to 2013; it moved to Harrogate in 2014. By June 2013, 25,000 tickets had been sold for the 2013 events.

The Opera House has a year-long programme of drama, concerts, comedy and other events. In September 2010, following a £2.5 million reconstruction, the former Paxton Suite in the Pavilion Gardens re-opened as a performance venue called the Pavilion Arts Centre. The centre, located behind the Opera House, includes a 369-seat auditorium. The stage area can be converted into a separate 93-seat studio theatre.

Buxton Museum & Art Gallery has a permanent collection of local artefacts, geological and archaeological samples (including the William Boyd Dawkins collection) and 19th- and 20th-century paintings, including works by Brangwyn, Chagall, Chahine and their contemporaries. There are also regular exhibitions by local and regional artists and various other events. The Pavilion Gardens hosts regular arts, crafts, antiques and jewellery fairs.

Folklore

According to local folklore, a farm three miles to the north-east of Buxton possesses a screaming skull called Dickie.

Public transport

Buxton railway station is served by the former L&NWR and LMS line via Whaley Bridge. It has frequent trains to Stockport and the nearby city of Manchester. The journey from Buxton to Manchester Piccadilly takes just under an hour. Buxton had three railway stations, Two under the LNWR, Buxton and High Buxton, located next to Clifton Road which closed in 1951 and the Midland Railway station situated next door to the LNWR terminus, The Midland Railway station was closed on 6 March 1967, later becoming the site for the Spring Gardens shopping centre. The trackbed of the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway has in part been used as a walk and cycleway called the Monsal Trail. Peak Rail, a heritage railway group, have restored the section from Rowsley to Matlock, with the long-term objective of re-opening it back to Buxton.

The town's buses include services into the Peak District National Park. Other buses run to the nearby towns of Whaley Bridge, Chapel en le Frith, New Mills and Glossop, and the High Peak 'Transpeak' service offers an hourly link southwards to Taddington, Matlock, Derby and Nottingham and northwards to Stockport and Manchester. There is also a High Peak bus directly from Manchester Airport to Buxton. Other buses provide roughly two-hourly services linking Buxton with Macclesfield, Stoke-on-Trent and Sheffield.

There are also taxi services based in the town.

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