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Heritage Tour: Buxton & Eyam

3rd October 2015


Northwich Memorial Court


Pickup Times

9.00am from Northwich
Other pick-up points available - details and booking conditions here.

We spend the morning and lunchtime in the Spa Town of Buxton.

The Romans were attracted to the site by the warm springs which emerge near the River Wye with a constant temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. They built baths here and for the following centuries these springs have been a major source of importance and income for Buxton. The spring at St Ann's Well was probably a place of pilgrimage as early as the Middle Ages, but certainly by Tudor times it was fairly well established as a spa and in Elizabeth I's time it was visited for this purpose by The Earl of Leicester, Lord Burghley and no less than Mary Queen of Scots, who was being held captive by the Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife Bess of Hardwick at nearby Chatsworth.

The great period of Buxton as a spa began when the 5th Duke of Devonshire started the construction of the Crescent in 1780. This magnificent building took ten years to build and was constructed over the river alongside the site of St Ann's well. It cost the huge sum of £38,000. From this time until the early 20th century a series of fine buildings were constructed in Buxton, starting with the Duke's stables in 1785 - this was converted to a hospital in the 1880s and a huge dome erected over the exercise area in the centre. Now part of University of Derby.

The Pavilion Gardens is a wonderful historic venue situated in the heart of the town with exhibitions, a restaurant and over 23 acres of gardens established in 1871 by Edward Milner, pupil of Sir Joseph Paxton, including lakes, flower beds and shaded walks.

At Buxton Museum and Art Gallery you can discover the geology, archaeology and history of the Peak District through seven time zones. Explore the Museum’s collection of Ashford black marble and Blue John ornaments and step into a Victorian scientist’s study. The Museum also hosts a variety of exhibitions of art, craft, photography and local history throughout the year running in three different galleries.

Follow the town trail and see The Crescent and Pump Rooms currently being restored, try the water at St Ann's Well, the neo-classic "Tuscan" style St John's Church, the Dome, the Old Court House (now shops) and the Old Hall Hotel, the oldest building in Buxton, and where Mary Queen of Scots stayed.


After lunch, we move on to Eyam, the plaque village, this year commemorating the 350th Anniversary of the tragedy.

In 1665 a tailor from Eyam ordered a bale of cloth from London to make up into clothes for the villagers, unwittingly triggering a chain of events that led to 260 Eyam villagers dying from bubonic plague – more than double the mortality rate suffered by the citizens of London in the Great Plague. Between the first death and the last, the villagers set an extraordinary and enduring example of self-sacrifice by sealing off the village from the surrounding areas to prevent the disease spreading. Eyam Museum tells the story of their sacrifice.

The plague is commemorated by a window in St Lawrence's Church in the village. The north aisle has a font of Saxon origins, and Norman pillars which may well rest on Saxon foundations. It also has a Norman window at the west end. The nave of the church is of medieval design (about 1350), and in the eighteenth century contained three galleries which were removed during the nineteenth century restoration. There was also a medieval chancel, and north and south aisles - all smaller than they are today. The oldest and most striking feature of the churchyard is the eighth-century Celtic cross. One of the best preserved examples in the country, it is decorated with a mixture of Christian and pagan symbols.

Eyam Hall and Craft Centre (NT) was built in 1671, just six years after the plague intruded in Eyam, and is a wonderfully unspoilt example of a grit-stone Jacobean manor house. Home of the Wright family for eleven generations, inside visitors can enjoy family portraits, and furniture belonging to each generation. The stable block is a vibrant hub from which to explore the wider village of Eyam and its captivating stories. Here you will find a collection of locally run craft units, an independent café and National Trust shop.


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