Tourist Information: The Crescent, Buxton. 0298 5106. (posted Nov 2011): Nottingham (0602 861871).

The signpost in the centre of the town points the way to Buxton ancient and modern. It is a town which has unashamedly changed its ways to accommodate the modern tourist and to attract people who would never have dreamed of going there in the days when it was one of the great spa towns of Britain.

The Romans first discovered the powerful properties of the warm waters that came up from the depths below. Not unpleasant to taste or smell, they were said to have almost miraculous curative powers, so much so that in medieval times the halt, lame, sick and afflicted looked upon Buxton as a miracle centre where, like Lourdes, they came to be cured and left their crutches behind as proof of that power. Thomas Cromwell was responsible for clearing out St Ann's Well, but the town as a spa was not really in the running as one of the places to take the waters until the 5th Duke of Devonshire set about turning it into the 'Bath of the North'. Others have called it the 'Harrogate of the Midlands' but both titles miss the mark today because the town has acquired, by its position and planning, a unique place as a holiday centre. The only passenger railway - busy but scenic - reaches Buxton via Manchester and Stockport. It is one of the highest towns in England, being about 1,000ft up in a bowl high in north Derbyshire, an ideal gateway either to the Dales, which lie south and east, or to the High Peaks in the north. The graceful elegance of Buxton owes much to the 5th Duke of Devonshire, on whose land it lies. The coming of the railway also helped to introduce a quite new clientele to the many hotels that grew up from the late eighteenth century onwards. The 5th Duke commissioned John Carr to build the Palladian Crescent to rival those of Bath. It was a few yards across the road from the original St Ann's Well, and it incorporated the natural baths which stand on the site of the Roman Aqua Arnementiae and contained an Assembly Room with an Adam-style ceiling, a Pump Room, Broad Walk and collonade. It is said to be one of the finest buildings in Britain and few would dispute it had grandeur and style.

Behind The Crescent is the Devonshire Royal Hospital which started as a stable and riding school block, housing over a hundred horses. It has a huge slate dome over 150ft in diameter and 118ft high. The 6th Duke converted it in 1858. In 1871 was added a glass and wrought-iron Pavilion, designed by Sir Joseph Paxton who had been responsible for the original Crystal Palace, an Opera House and Bandstand in the 20 acres of the Pavilion gardens. The restored Conservatory has a collection of exotic and local flora, as well as an aviary. Along by the River Wye the Serpentine walks are as peaceful as they sound and for the energetic there is always the climb through the Grin Low woods to Solomon's Temple, a folly built on the site of a Stone Age burial mound, 1,300ft up.

Further reading - Bristol Places To See in 2015

British Rail News 2015

These rights and privileges were resented by some of 'The Town' who rebelled against 'The Gown' and many of those rights were eventually abandoned.

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