Cressbrook Peak District Information Website - accommodation, holiday cottages, attractions, towns villages, walking climbing cycling

The Crescent, Opera House and former Devonshire Hospital, Buxton, Derbyshire.

The Peak District covers much of Derbyshire and parts of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. There are numerous interesting towns such as Ashbourne, Bakewell, Buxton, Leek, Matlock and Wirksworth, plus many enchanting villages

Buxton Crescent

historic interest
Buxton Crescent
Buxton Crescent
In the late 18th century Buxton followed the fashion of Bath and other centres and was developed as a spa by the great local landowner, the 5th Duke of Devonshire. At the time, he was making vast profits from his copper mines at nearby Ecton in the Manifold valley, and these are reputed to have paid for his building work in Buxton.

The most famous building of the time is The Crescent, consciously modelled on that of Bath. It was built for the Duke between 1780 and 1784 by John Carr, out of locally quarried gritstone, and included a ballroom and an Assembly Room as well as a town house for the Duke and shops along the ground floor. Sadly this magnificent building has now been empty for over 20 years. There are ambitious plans to reopen it as part of a spa complex, and work is currently in progress to complete this - it is due to re-open in 2018 as a 5-start hotel and spa.

Inside the old Thermal Baths
Inside the old Thermal Baths
Above it, on the west side, the Duke built a fine circular set of stables, which the 6th Duke gave to charity in 1859 to be converted into the Devonshire Royal Hospital. The architect, Henry Curry, covered the circular exercise area in the centre of the stables with a huge iron-framed dome roofed in slate. Until recently this was the largest unsupported dome in the world.

The hospital closed about 2000 and the building has converted by the University of Derby, as the centrepiece of their Buxton campus.

Buxton Opera House
Buxton Opera House
Next door to The Crescent are the former Thermal Baths (built 1851-3 and currently closed to visitors), and then the Old Hall Hotel - once the town house of Bess of Hardwick and her husband the Earl of Shrewsbury, the jailers of Mary Queen of Scots. This is where she stayed when she visited Buxton, though the building has been much altered since.

Around the corner is Buxton Opera House, built by Frank Matcham in 1903, the period of Buxton's heyday as a spa. It is an exquisite building with beautiful decoration and superb acoustics. Fortunately it was rescued from near ruin in 1980 and restored. It has since formed the centre for an annual festival of opera, music, arts and literature, which takes place from mid July to early August, and there is a year-round programme of other events ranging from Opera to plays to rock tribute bands.

Buxton Crescent
0 - Buxton Crescent
Buxton Crescent in snow
1 - Buxton Crescent in snow
Buxton - inside the old Thermal Baths
2 - Buxton - inside the old Thermal Baths
Buxton Old Hall Hotel
3 - Buxton Old Hall Hotel
Buxton - St Anns well
4 - Buxton - St Anns well
Buxton - St Johns church
5 - Buxton - St Johns church
Buxton - the former Devonshire Hospital, now Derby University
6 - Buxton - the former Devonshire Hospital, now Derby University
Buxton's Edwardian Opera House
7 - Buxton's Edwardian Opera House
Ordnance Survey Grid Reference: SK057735 Click here for Google Maps

See location on

How to get there

By Road:
Buxton lies on the A6 Manchester - Derby road. From Leek take the A53 and from Macclesfield the A537. From Chesterfield, the A623 Chesterfield - Stockport road joins the A6 a few km north of Buxton. From Sheffield, take the A621 and A619 roads to Bakewell, then follow the A6.

By Bus: the Trans-Peak bus runs from Derby to Manchester via Matlock, Bakewell and Buxton.

By Train: trains run from Manchester to Buxton approximately hourly.
When is it open?

The Crescent is currently (2017) closed, as it has been for several years, and is fenced off as it undergoes renovation. It is intended to re-open it soon as a luxury spa-hotel. It is possible to visit the former Devonshire Hospital building, by arrangement with the University of Derby.

All material © Cressbrook Multimedia 1997-2017