The spa town of Buxton is mainly a creation of the fifth Duke of Devonshire. Baths in some form have been part of the town's history for at least 2000 years. Spa treatment ceased at the baths in the early 1950's, and from then until 1972 the baths were used as the town's swimming pool. They were eventually replaced by the new pool in the Pavilion Gardens. Since that time the baths have been lying empty and neglected. The Thermal Baths building was converted into shops in 1985.The Buxton Mineral Water Company has covered The Spring and diverted the water to its bottling plant, this can be seen through a glass doorway in the information centre. The Devonshire Royal Hospital was originally a stables and could accommodate 300 horses. It was converted into a hospital in 1858 and presented to the town by the 6th Duke of Devonshire. The Buxton waters are the second hottest in Britain (Bath has the hottest). They can be seen bubbling up at 81.5oF near the Square in the Buxton Water bottling factory. The Pump Room which faces The Crescent was built in 1894 and thermal water was served here until 1981. Now the public can sample the water from the drinking fountain next to it.
There are examples of street names in the city reflecting the plague epidemics of the 17thC. Deadman's Lane and Blagreaves (Black Graves) Lane are two examples. There is a plague stone known as the Vinegar Stone or Headless Cross in Friargate. (See also Zennor and Penrith)
William Mompesson who was rector here in the mid seventeenth century persuaded his parishioners to isolate themselves during an outbreak of plague in 1665. More than three quarters of the villagers died. The grave-stones of many of them can still be seen in the gardens and orchards of their homes where they were buried. A memorial service is still held annually at Cucklet Church, a nearby dell where Mompesson conducted open-air services to his dwindling congregations during the year of the plague. As a result of recent DNA studies on the present day inhabitants of Eyam, many of whom can trace their families back to the time of the plague outbreak, it has been suggested that the survivors possessed a gene mutation which prevented intracellular penetration of white blood cells by plague bacteria. There are details about the plague in the museum.
Florence Nightingale spent her youth at Lea Hurst, a seventeenth century house overlooking the valley of the Derwent.
New Bath Hotel. A medicinal spring which came to light in the mid-1700's encouraged the development of a bath and several lodging-houses in its vicinity. When the hotel was erected in the latter part of the 18th century, the bath was incorporated into the interior of the building. It is quite large and is filled with mineral water which emanates from the spring at 68oF. and continuously empties itself through a long tunnel into the river Derwent. It was reputed to benefit rheumatic disorders. Nowadays, the hotel has modern additions and there are two baths, the other being in the open air, gently steaming and having water-chutes and diving boards.
Matlock Bath and it's neighbouring town of Matlock once supported several hydropathic
establishments, the most opulent of which was Smedley's
Hydro, its building standing prominently on Matlock Bank and looking more
like a mill or a workhouse than somewhere one would want to pay to stay. The austere
regimen of hydropathic therapy catered for the masochistic. Matlock, like Malvern,
became popular places offering this style of treatment and hydros in remote
locations proliferated, the forerunners of today's health farms. An American
patient staying at one such establishment in 1904 remarked "We cannot
decide whether we are in a boarding school or a theological training-house"