One thousand feet above sea level sits the Roman spa town of Buxton. Natural mineral water comes from the surrounding mountains from a group of thermal springs. The town was known to Romans as Aquae Arnemetia, meaning ‘the waters of the Goddess of the Grove’. During our short visit to the city, we tasted some of the water from a running tap on the sidewalk, it was a shock when the water was warm.
When Mary Queen of Scots was a prisoner in England she stayed in Buxton at the Old Royal Hall Hotel under house arrest, and visited the thermal baths on several occasions. The hotel is one of the oldest in England with its present building dating back to 1573. Due to her stay in Buxton, the hotel soon became a regular venue for the highest nobility of the land as well as the center for planning against the crown of England. Some believe the future of England was determined by the hall in Buxton rather than London. Inside the hotel are etches she left during her stay. With a diamond ring, her farewell to Buxton was scratched on one of the bedroom window panes “Buxton, whose warm waters have made thy name famous, perchance I shall visit thee no more-Farewell”.
The Opera House in Buxton has lived on through the generations, adapting to the changing of the times since 1903 when it first opened. In 1927 silent films were first shown as the theatre turned into a cinema and was wired for sound. Festivals were introduced in the late 1930s as people continued to demand live performances even though the theatre was turned into a cinema until the 50s and 60s. The theatre was only closed for a few short years in the 70s and reopened in 1979 when people from all over the country helped restore the Opera House and added an orchestra pit. The Opera House in Buxton today has developed into a community theatre and a remarkable success story lasting throughout the generations. Attached to the Opera House is 23 acres of restored gardens, the Pavilion Garden.