Buxton, Derbyshire

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“Very flat, Norfolk”

~ Oscar Wilde about another Buxton

“Buxton ..(where) Social snobbery and unreal values seem to reach their height ... A little box of social strife lying at the bottom of a basin ”

~ Vera Brittain

Buxton is a small spa town in the High Pique of Derbyshire, England.


Prehistoric Man[edit]

Prehistoric man was attracted by the great herds of deer that gathered around the warm spring-fed pools of water in the midst of the wasteland that was to become Derbyshire. Prehistoric woman was forced to tag along behind. “The only time he looks at me is when I put on that deer costume” she complained to her mother; “and I have to bellow like a hind in heat to get any attention”. However she did enjoy washing in the warm, slightly radioactive springs, and managed to make Pool Cavern a comfortable, if slightly damp home. “It’s not Cresswell Crags” she said, “but at least he can’t bring those bloody deer in with him”.

The Arrival of the Romans[edit]

Roman Buxton was founded by a retired centurian Quintus Lollius. He had intended to settle in Ashbourne, but he arrived there on the day the of the annual football match and ended up being covered in beer, blood, puke and shit from head to foot. Heading north he came across the warm springs, and stripped off for a good wash. Writing to his former commanding officer, he said “It’s not a bad place and there is hot and cold running water. It’s a pity that it tastes as if a regiment of Armenian auxiliaries have been pissing in it”. He built himself a little villa and called it “Aquae Armeniatiea”.

Mary Queen Of Scots[edit]

She visited a couple of times. Had her head chopped off sometime afterwards. Probably not because she had been to Buxton.

The Georgian Spa[edit]

In 1780 the Duke of Devonshire decided he wanted a bath. It was 1780 after all, and a long time since his last one. However the he did not want to travel all the way to Bath for his bath, so he decided to bring a bit of Bath a little nearer home so he could have his bath and be home for tea. Suprisingly his home was in Derbyshire, not Devonshire so he chose Buxton

The Canal Age[edit]

Josias Jessop wanted to build a canal through Buxton, but nobody would give him any water to put in it, especially the slightly radioactive stuff. He built the canal anyway, and cunningly put the boats on wheels, thus inventing the railway.

The Coming of the Railways[edit]

They came – and so did the great unwashed of Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield & Stoke to all try and get into the Duke's bath. He did not like this very much, and made them sleep in his stables and bathe in a disused horse trough. To give him credit though, he did pay for a new roof to be put on the stables.

Twentieth Century Decline[edit]

As more and more people had baths in their home, they stopped coming to Buxton for a Bath. The founding of the NHS meant that they did not have to come to Buxton to get radioactive - their local hospital x-ray department would do the job just as well.

The Rise of The University[edit]

Once there was a decent little College of Further Education where people learnt to do useful things, like chopping vegetables, fixing car engines and looking after children.

And Lo, a University from the south of the county cast its countenance upon Buxton and said.

“There is some nice old buildings in Buxton. We’ll do 'em up. We'll offer courses like degrees in International Spa Management to attract the rich and thick who if they squint a little and ignore the Scum from Harper Hill and the mess that is the back of Spring Gardens they can pretend that they are in Bath or even Oxbridge – And those post war college buildings – well we will let them rot until we can find someome to take them off our hands”. [1]

Twenty First Century Revival[edit]

Appalled by the fact that the town still retained some individual character, the High Pique Borough Council has embarked on an ambitious plan to revitalise the local economy by shutting down the popular bi-weekly market, restricting parking close to the main tourist attractions and making plans to build a supermarket, a cheap chain hotel, a multi-storey carpark and a small grimcrack shopping development in the centre of the town. The inhabitants of nearby Bakewell are pissing themselves with laughter.

Apart from that, Buxton still lives in the 18th century


The population of Buxton is largely drawn from four families

  • Garlic: Only a mildly amusing name
  • Mycock: Not at all funny,no, right – we’ll all have a big laugh about it now and get over it, OK?
  • Morton,Morten,Moreton,Morson,Mortin,Morhen etc etc: Come on guys, get a grip and let us know when you’ve decided once and for all how to spell it
  • Brook-Taylor: Not really funny since the 1970's.


Sterndale Moor[edit]

A large conurbation on the outskirts of the town towards Ashbourne lies this highly industrialised settlement of over 4 million people. Its primary industries are sheep manufacturing and hill-building. It is a historic part of Buxton but is striving for independence.


A small village along the Ashbourne road. Avoid at all costs. Residents are to be found on their farms or small holdings with their family and extended family. For instance a typical Chemortian saying would be 'My Aunt be my mums brothers sisters grandmas pet parrots cats second cousin twice removed and my dad'. Chelmorton is very difficult to escape from take my warning. Chelmorton made news in 2007 when 3 horse and carts collided killing 3 people.

Cultural Events[edit]

Sheep Wrestling[edit]

Buxton is world renound for its sheep wrestling community. They often partake in this so-called 'sport' due to most other places in Buxton bieng negleted. The Sheep Wrestling is held on the fifth of March every year, it also happens much more secretly when many wellie-clad locals head up into the hills under the cover of darkness. Sport is reputedly good around the Cat & Fiddle area, as there are no walls to enclose sheep, so they are much more 'fun' to catch and sometimes, in the darkness, Red Deer have been mistaken for Sheep. This has lead to an increase in patients going to nearby Macclesfield Hospital. Macclesfield hospital is often over-run with sporting injuries around March time, this is often linked to training sessions of athletes before the annual Sheep-wrestling contest. The contest itself is held in the Pavillion gardens.[2]

Oprah Festival[edit]

The Buxton Broadcasting Corporation was the first UK public-service television company to transmit images of the well known US sociologist and cultural commentator Oprah Winfrey. In commemoration of this, Buxton’s Edwardian era cinema shows an extensive selection of her works during the last two weeks of July each year. A large and dynamic festival fringe has grown up around this where many Jerry Springer, Ricki Lake and Jenny Jones impersonators perfect their art before travelling north to the much more prestigious Edinburgh Festival.

Well Dressing[edit]

On the whole, the inhabitants of Buxton are a shabby lot, but for one week (usually co-inciding with the Oprah Festival) they mount concerted raids on the Oxfam shop in Alderly Edge to get garments discarded by the Beckhams and their friends. They then parade around the town in their new finery, telling each other how well dressed they look.

Gilbert & George Festival[edit]

Many amateur Gilbert & George societies and professional musical theatre ensembles flock to Buxton each year to perform the complete canon of their inimitable light operettas such as ‘Hello Sailor’, ‘Trial by Television’, ‘The Skinheads of Penzance’, ‘Bloodyshit’ and “Alone Again (Naturally)”

The Mean Fiddler Festival[edit]

A celebration of the art of the Folk violinist, the purpose of the festival is to find the most average fiddler in the UK.

Festival of Blues[edit]

Any electromagnetic radiation of wavelength between 440–490 nm is welcome.

Visitor Attractions[edit]

The Crescent[edit]

Neglected and closed, in desperate need of renovation.

The Pump Rooms[edit]

Neglected and closed, in desperate need of renovation.

The Pavilion Gardens Buildings[edit]

Neglected and threatened with closure, in desperate need of renovation.

The World of Vera Brittain[edit]

Her most hated parts of this little provincial pressure cooker of spiteful snobbery and petty resentments are skilfully re-created every Sunday afternoon at the Sun Inn.

Cat And Fiddle Road[edit]

The Cat and Fiddle road runs between Buxton and Macclesfield. Sometimes it walks. More often it runs. It is generally considered to be the best place in England to see fat brummies falling off motorbikes and being airlifted to hospital.[3]

Corbar Stump[edit]

High above Buxton to the north on Corbar Hill is an imposing wooden stump erected in 2010 to celebrate 2000 years of child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church[4].

The Blue Lagoon[edit]

A flooded former quarry, full of toxic chemicals, dead animals and junked cars which draws in tourists from all around Europe to swim from it's excreta covered shores. If it wasn't true, it would be hilarious.[5]

Pool Cavern[edit]

Cut through the native limestone by the embryonic river Wye, Pool Cavern is one of the wonders of Buxton. Much evidence of early man has been found here, including heavily-stained deer skins with loopholes sewn on for arms and legs.

Due to the narrowness of the entrance, the agents of the 4th Duke of Devonshire found it impossible to bring in a full-sized snooker table into the cavern. After a long correspondence, Messrs Gibson of Nottingham supplied a reduced sized table fitted with larger pockets in compensation. Since then Pool Cavern has developed into the unofficial ‘Hall Of Fame’ of pool, and has displays celebrating the great British stars of the game, including Duncan Goodhew and Mark Spitz.

It is well known that it was at the Pool Cavern Club that John Lennon, Peter Sutcliffe and Denny Laine first performed together as the ‘Quarry Workers and Allied Trades Social Club Band” before going on to form the legendary “Wings”. Apart, of course, from Sutcliffe who was arrested by the cast of Heartbeat following the murder of fifteen Hamburg prostitutes.

Spring Gardens Nuclear Bunker[edit]

At the end of the Second World War Buxton’s railways links with the major industrial regions of South Yorkshire, the North West, the East and West Midlands and Stoke On Trent made it an ideal site for storing the equipment needed to restore normal life after an exchange of nuclear weapons. The high level of natural background radiation also meant that the local population would be largely immune to effects of nuclear war, and so would be in a position to respond rapidly to any emergency.

From 1954 onwards a huge inventory of equipment was gathered and stored in a specially built bunker, cunningly hidden behind the shop fronts of Spring Gardens, Buxton’s premier shopping street. These included fishing rods and freeze-dried pork sandwiches for the people of Birmingham, 47 thousand morning-after pills for the women of Macclesfield, machine pistols and machetes for Manchester and 1.73 million social security giro cheques for the people of Liverpool.

Liverpool was a particular headache for the emergency planners. The effect of radiation-induced hair loss on the profuse and finely permed hair of the male population could have threatened to form an inpenetrible barrier in the Western Approaches , thus scuppering any chance of bringing convoys into Britain from the USA.

Entry to the bunker was originally via a secret door hidden at the rear of one of the gentlemen's changing cubicles in Marks & Spencer. This was abandoned in 1957 after the Dean of Southwell, visiting Buxton for an ecumenical conference, saw six naval officers, a chief petty officer and three ratings entering the cubicle in quick succession. Suspecting sodomy on a scale unknown to him since theological college, he summoned the local constabulary and the store manager to act as witness as he drew back the curtain. To his surprise (and possible disappointment) the cubicle was empty. The Ministry of Defence acted quickly to suppress any possible hint of scandal. Using its influence with the then Archbishop of Canterbury the Dean was promoted to become the church's Episcopal envoy to the Kikuyu people of Kenya, a position that resulted in a quick (and some would say timely) death at the hands of the Mau Mau.

From then onwards (and to this day) access to bunker was gained by taking a Chicken Tikka Masala meal and a bottle of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon to checkout number three and asking for directions to SpecSavers.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall the bunker was slowly de-commissioned, and its structure emerged from the camouflage that surrounded its rear. Its vast, featureless concrete walls stand as mute witness to the fears of the last fifty years.

Grinlow Castle[edit]

The Normans[edit]

After the Norman conquest of 1066, William Peveril, thought by many to be the illegitimate son of William I (William the Conquerer), was appointed bailiff of the Royal Manors of the Pique - in effect the King's agent in Buxton and the surrounding areas. On the top of Grin Low, a hill rising to 440m (1450 feet) to the south of Buxton he constructed a small motte and bailey castle from which all roads in and out of the town could be observed and controlled.

The Stanleys[edit]

Following the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 the castle, and much of the surrounding land was gifted by Henry Tudor to Sir William Stanley, whose intervention in the battle had proved decisive. Successive generations of the Stanley family enlarged and improved the castle, making it one of the most formidable fortresses north of the Trent.

During the English Civil war the castle was fought over several times by Royalist and Parliamentry troops, who recognised the control of the lead mining industry (important for the manufacture of shot) that possession of the castle could impose. Unlike many others though, it was not slighted at the end of the conflict.

The Buckinghams[edit]

On the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 ownership of the castle and estate was passed to the family of the Duke of Buckingham, who engaged in a programme of alterations and improvements to create a palatial interior to the medieval keep, and a new wing of State Rooms within the inner bailey.

The land surrounding the castle was subsequently developed into gardens, which, in their final form contained a yew maze, lakes, grottos, fountains and garden buildings eclipsing those of nearby Chatsworth. Visiting in 1697, Celia Fiennes wrote of the gardens:

"The Duke's castle lies just at ye top of this steepe hill wch is like a precipice just at ye Last. Before ye gate there is a Large parke and Severall ffine Gardens one wth out another wth Gravell walkes and Squairs of Grass wth stone statues in them, and in ye middle of Each Garden is a Large ffountaine full of I mages, sea gods and Dolphins and sea horses wch are full of pipes wch spout out water in the bason and spouts all about the Gardens. 3 gardens just round the castle. Out of two of ye Gardens you ascend by Severall Stepps into other Gardens wch some have Gravell walks and squares Like ye other wth Statues"

During the 19th and 20th centuries it became one of the most celebrated and visited castles in Britain. Architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner described it as:

"A wonder - Perhaps the most imposing and complete medieval castle in Europe – a building where the history of English architecture from the 11th century onwards can be seen unfolding before you"

The Twats[edit]

In 1993 researchers working for the High Peak Borough Council discovered that planning permission had only be granted to William Peveril for one small watch tower, and that all subsequent development was in breach of planning regulations. A retrospective planning application was made for the castle, but this was rejected unanimously by the planning committee, which reported:

"Despite the apparent antiquity of the building and its supposed architectural and cultural value, it is flagrantly in breach of the Town and Country Planning Act, and has for too long been an eyesore, visible from all parts of the town"


Apart from one small tower in the outer bailey wall, the entire castle was demolished in 1995, the stonework being used to improve flood defences in Glossop and the celebrated gardens ploughed up and returned to agricultural use.


Grinlow Castle has been in many film and television programs appearing as:

  • Itself in 'Firing the Cannon', Friese-Greene. 1891
  • Camelot in 'A Yankee at the court of King Arthur', Warner Brothers, 1947
  • Slider / The White Castle in 'Battle of the Burger Kings' McDonald, 1969
  • Msagro in 'Dr Who - The Knights of Msagro', BBC TV, 1971
  • Gormenghast in 'Titus Groan', BBC Radio, 1984
  • Itself in 'Pevsner's Britain", BBC TV, 1989
  • Itself (posthumously) in 'After they were famous', Granada TV 2002
  • Itself in David Belfields masterpiece 'My media Cousework' BCS, 2008

In 1985 it was nominated for the 'Best Inanimate Object' Oscar for its role as 'Nottingham Castle' in 'Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves 2' but lost out to Meyrl Streep in 'Plenty'.


  1. Larry Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Bowen. Changing Rooms - are you taking the piss?. force x distance. Ideal in Homes.
  2. Oscar Wilde (12 July 1887). The Little Lamb of Buxton Dear. Wattis & Grenfell.
  3. Some daft bugger (22 Feb 2010). I've got a Silver Machine. bikeporn.com.
  4. Buxton celebrates Pope's visit to Britain
  5. Emma Downes (17th August 2012). "Oh I do like to be beside the seaside". Buxton Advertiser.