Buxton has been attracting visitors for centuries primarily because of the wonderful warm waters. These waters have, at different times throughout history, been given miraculous powers to cure all manner of ailments.
Remember too that these were days long before treated water so this pure water from deep below the ground was particularly sought after.
During the Regency period many distinguished visitors came to stay in the newly built Crescent and would attend balls in the magnificent Assembly Rooms of the Great Hotel.
Many of these distinguished guests would have suffered from arthritic conditions. Many titled visitors who came for the season derived benefit from the Buxton Baths but even for the gentry common lodging houses were the norm. In the late 1790s in a letter it states that “Buxton was a shocking place but the blessing of health is worth a state of trial and goes on to write…“ We are blessed with one Garret (it deserves no other name) with three extremely dirty beds in it, a broken table, one glass, and four chairs. Perhaps this lady was not staying at the newly built Crescent!!
Indeed the 5th Duke who built the Crescent 1780-89 suffered from gout and had been making the long trip to Bath to take the waters there. It must have been a painful journey, no wonder he was once described, somewhat scathingly “as an image for a wintry day.
Unfortunately because of the physical health of many of the guests some of the balls were less exciting as we might have imagined. Colonel Byng in 1790 described one such ball as having a crippled appearance…..
Miss Seward in 1793 talks of many, herself included, being unable to dance.
Ticket for a concert in the Crescent 1788 Courtesy Buxton Museum
In the opening season of 1788 there were 7 subscribers including The Countess of Derby (pictured above) and until 1800 the upper classes patronised the Crescent and continued to take the cure but this started to dwindle and by 1840 there were few entries to the subscription book.
Later during the Victorian era the belief in water cures hit even stranger heights.
This final picture is after the remodelling of the hot baths(now the Cavendish Arcade) in 1900 showing the bathchairs which were available to rent. These were still available approximately up until the outbreak of the Second World War.