Tag Archives: The Crescent

Scenes of summer

While we enjoy the last days – and rays – of summer, it seems like as good a time as any to share some images of the season from the museum collection. There are certainly plenty to choose from, even though you’d be forgiven for thinking that Buxton is better known for its somewhat wintry reputation!

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Postcard sent from Buxton, postmarked July 11th 1908

These pictures, reproduced on postcards, demonstrate the variety of activities available to residents and visitors in Buxton during the warmer months of the year.

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Ashwood Park was built in the early 1920s on the grounds of the Ashwood Park Hotel. 

As well as sporting activities like tennis, bowls, boating and golf, visitors and residents could enjoy strolls in landscaped areas around the town and walks in the countryside.

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The Serpentine Walks extend along the River Wye to the west of Pavilion Gardens

The more adventurous could explore further afield with trips by horse-drawn carriage and charabanc to scenic destinations including Dovedale, Ashford-in-the-Water, the Cat and Fiddle public house and the Goyt Valley.

 

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Passengers leaving Buxton with their driver J Wilkinson and guard A Gallinson, pulled by the horses Black Jack and Little Arthur. Early 20th century.

While adults enjoyed promenading through Pavilion Gardens, there was also plenty of entertainment for children. We love this postcard of a Punch & Judy show by the Crescent:

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Postcard dated 1896

Lest we forget that the sun doesn’t always shine in Buxton in the summer, we have two postcards showing a flood in Pavilion Gardens, which (while it may not have been the result of heavy rain?) certainly must have put a dampener on the usual summer pursuits.

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Enjoy the rest of the summer – wherever you are and whatever you’re doing! Remember Buxton Museum and Art Gallery closes for redevelopment on 5 September so you only have until the weekend to pay us a visit.

 

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May these waters never cease to flow

This week Buxton celebrates the well dressing festival, which began in 1840 to thank the Duke of Devonshire for piping a supply of fresh water to a well on the Market Place. Apart from a break between 1912 and 1925, the event has been held annually.

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Celebrations on the Crescent in 1864, the first year that St Ann’s Well was decorated.

Since Thursday volunteers have been busy creating the dressings inside St John’s Church and this morning the results will have been installed at the three wells around the town ready to be blessed this afternoon.

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The blessing of Higher Buxton Well in 1910.

 

The blessing of the wells starts with a service at St Anne’s Church on Bath Road followed by a procession that marches to each of the three wells in turn for a short blessing at each one. Afterwards the new well dressing Queen is crowned in a ceremony at St John’s Church. Next Saturday she will lead the annual carnival procession through the town.

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Festival Queen Florence Morten leading the carnival procession in 1925.

 

The three wells are  St Ann’s Well on the Crescent, the Children’s Well (or Taylor Well) on Spring Gardens and Higher Buxton Well on the Market Place. The displays remain up until the following Monday (11th July this year) for visitors and residents to enjoy.

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Palace Hotel Laundry parade float, June 1932

 

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery has a large collection of photographs and postcards that record the history of well dressing in the town, including wonderful well dressings, former festival queens, prize-winning parade floats and spectacular street scenes. Thanks to the people who collected them and the generosity of our donors and supporters, we’ll be able to keep and look after these snapshots of Buxton tradition for future generations to enjoy.

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May pole dancing on the Crescent in front of St Ann’s Well, 1912.

More information about Buxton well dressing and associated events can be found on the official festival website here.

Curiosity of the Month

Visitors to Buxton Museum and Art Gallery are often curious about the history of the building. The Art Nouveau stained glass in the museum foyer is a hint of its past and frequently provokes the question “what was this place?”

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Built in 1880, the building was originally the Peak Hydropathic Hotel. The town’s reputation as a fashionable spa had been established since at least the 1790s, when the Duke of Devonshire had built the Crescent and Assembly Rooms. The Peak Hydropathic was never a profitable venture and it went up for sale several times in the first decades of the 20th century. This recently acquired document relates to the auction of the building in 1915. It is currently on display with a similar plan for an auction in 1909, along with some photographs and items from that era.

Buxton Before the War

As the commemorations of the centenary of the First World War continue, a new exhibition in the museum foyer presents a variety of photographs taken in Buxton between about 1900 and 1914. The images depict people going about their everyday lives – work, school and leisure activities. It is interesting to note the differences of 100 years ago, such as the regular use of horse-drawn vehicles and the quiet roads that lent themselves to walking.

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The architecture of the town is remarkably familiar – the Crescent, the Thermals Baths, the Cottage Hospital, the Turner Memorial, amongst others, are still visible today, although often now used for a new purpose. Like many who have already seen these images, you will find the comparisons fascinating. If you can’t make it to Buxton, all the photographs in this exhibition can be seen (and copies bought) on the Picture the Past website.

Curiosity of the Month

October’s Curiosity of the Month has been chosen by volunteer Ian Gregory. Working part-time on the archives at Chatsworth House, Ian spares Buxton Museum one day a week to help document the photograph and art collections. His knowledge of local history is encyclopaedic and he occasionally highlights a remarkable image, such as this one. It’s over to you, Ian:

The print collection at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery contains a panoramic view of Buxton. What strikes me is the small size of Buxton in the image. Today The Crescent, Old Hall and Dome are the focal points of a built-up area. Back then, they were large classical buildings in the valley with smaller structures on the Market Place but few other buildings are in view. Dark rolling hills and white-edged clouds dominate this image.

Collection of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Collection of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

There is no date on the print but its artistic style suggests either late-eighteenth or early-nineteenth century. Looking at old buildings today, it is easy to forget just how much their settings have changed. Back then, if a traveller had come across vast areas of moorland or even more fertile open countryside, the contrast between that and imposing Georgian architecture must have been striking.

The first glimpse of houses like Chatsworth or Lyme Park must have produced similar effects but today, we are used to sprawling estates around The Crescent and other landmarks.