One thousand feet up in the clouds (OK, drizzle), with barely a street not at a 45-degree angle, Buxton is a town built like a fitness class. Work that body. It’s been a spot encouraging the restitution of health for centuries. The Romans spotted the Jacuzzi-warm water bubbling out of the hills, awfully good for settling the tum; but it was the Georgians who turned Buxton into the Bath-of-the-north, with columns, crescents, domes and, if they’d been invented then, neoclassical hot tubs, too.
The Guardian: Let’s move to Buxton, Derbyshire: it’s good for mind, body and soul
Built on the River Wye, and overlooked by Axe Edge Moor, Buxton became a spa town for its geothermal spring, which gushes at a steady 28 °C. The spring waters are piped to St Ann’s Well, a shrine since medieval times at the foot of The Slopes, opposite the Crescent and near the town centre. The well was called one of the Seven Wonders of the Peak by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes in his 1636 book “De Mirabilibus Pecci: Being The Wonders of the Peak in Darby-shire”. The Dukes of Devonshire became involved in 1780, when the William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire used profits from his copper mines to develop it as a spa in the style of Bath. Their ancestor Bess of Hardwick had brought one of her four husbands, the Earl of Shrewsbury, to “take the waters” at Buxton in 1569, shortly after he became the gaoler of Mary, Queen of Scots, and took Mary there in 1573. She called Buxton “La Fontagne de Bogsby” and stayed at the site of the Old Hall Hotel. The area features in the works of W. H. Auden, Jane Austen and Emily Brontë. Buxton’s profile was boosted by a recommendation from Erasmus Darwin of the waters there and at Matlock, addressed to Josiah Wedgwood I. The Wedgwood family often visited Buxton and commended the area to their friends. Two of Charles Darwin’s half-cousins, Edward Levett Darwin and Reginald Darwin, settled there. The arrival of the railway in 1863 stimulated growth: the population of 1,800 in 1861 exceeded 6,000 by 1881.