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Site record MDR336 - St. Anne's Well (site of), The Crescent, Buxton

Type and Period (1)

  • (Roman to Stuart - 43 AD? to 1700 AD?)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Charles Leigh describes [in 1700] a wall which was, in his time, to be seen near to St Anne's Well, and which he concluded to have been of Roman erection. It was cemented with a plaster that was red and hard as brick, but very different from anything that was in common use at that time; it had the resemblance of some kind of tile than anything else. The ruins of an ancient bath, too, were then visible [see SMR 2837]. (1) Before 1709, St. Anne's Well 'rose into a stone bason, shut up within an ancient Roman brickwall a yard square within and a yard high on three sides'. In 1709 this was demolished to make place for a 'beautiful Arch'. (2) In the year 1709, Sir Thomas Delves, in gratitude for a cure he received here, began to erect an arch over the spring of St Anne's Well, to preserve the water from dust and impurities. The wall mentioned by Dr Short [Authority 2] was destroyed, and about its foundations were discovered many utensils, and several leaden cisterns, of Roman fabrication. They are, however, totally lost. The improvements of Sir Thomas Delves added greatly to the convenience of those who came to drink the water, for it appears that his arch covered an area of about 12 feet square, and was on every side supplied with seats, or stone benches, for the accommodation of visitors. This was destroyed to make room for the present elegant little drinking house [1811]. St Anne's Well, as the present drinking room is still known, is a beautiful square building, in the Grecian style, three sides of which have each three semi-circular niches, to serve as resting places for the water drinkers; the fourth, which is the entrance, is closed with a door of open iron work. This side, which is the front, is supported by two columns of the Tuscan order, and the whole building is surmounted by a beautiful urn. The water is served from a white marble basin, nearly in the centre of the building, by one of the four matrons who are appointed to attend the well. Though the basin here retains the name of St Anne's Well, it is not the spot where the original well of St Anne was, nor is it near the real spring; the water however, is equally warm, or perhaps warmer, than that of the old well, and both were supplied from the same source. Dr Pearson wrote in 1784: 'There was no spring in the old St Anne's Well, as was commonly supposed. The receptacle, containing the water, was supplied from subterraneous streams of the tepid springs that issued from fissures in the stratum of limestone, at the distance of many feet from the well. When this well was demolished about 5 years ago, the water was conveyed in a gritstone channel from the very same stream as before but in much larger quantity, perhaps to a greater distance and in a different direction'. The spring from which the old well was, and the new one is supplied, lies under the causeway near the lower corner of the Hall. The old well was situated under the third pier from the corner of that part of the arcade, which runs along the side of St Anne's Hotel to the Bath passage, the basin of which, and the foundation of Sir Thomas Delves' arch, are said to be buried beneath the pavement. From the spring to this well, the water had a direct channel, but on the erection of the new well-house, this channel was cut off, and the new semi-cylindrical one joined to it; by this the water is conveyed in a circuitous direction to the present basin. (4) The history of studies on the location of St Anne's Well is complex and frustrating. Prior to 1709 the well stood to the east or north-east of the Old Hall (see SMR 2875), if Speed's drawing is to be trusted. The wall surrounding it is variously described as being covered in hard red cement, or being built in brick. The hard red cement could be a description of a typical Roman construction technique involving the use of pounded tile, as could the use of brick. A record of 1697 refers to a 'hot spring, from a well enclosed with four flat stones called St Anne's Well, near unto which another cold spring bubbles up'. The 'ancient Roman brickwall' about St Anne's Well, together with its bason, were razed by Sir T Delves in 1709 and replaced by an arch 12' long and 12' broad with stone seats on the inside. In the centre was a stone bason 2' square at the top and 3' wide at the bottom. The spring was at the west end of the basin. However when Delves' arch was demolished to make way for The Crescent (SMR 31116), it was concluded that due to the distance the water was conducted, 'most probably the well anciently was not exactly on the spot where ..Delves'.. well was made'. (7) An archaeological evaluation was carried out by York Archaeological Trust in 2009 prior to proposed redevelopment of The Crescent (SMR 31116) into a hotel. One of the trial pits towards the western end of the basement in St Anne's Hotel was within an area that suffered from flooding. The problem was thought to be associated with a spring source at the site of the former St Anne's Well/Delves' Arch. This well was formerly located in the yard to the east of the Old Hall (see SMR 2875), which was apparently built over an earlier Roman structure. There is documentary evidence to suggest that the location of this well was at the site of this trial pit, within the western end of the basement of The Crescent. Flooding in this area in the months leading up to the evaluation had a flow and temperature that indicated that it was from a thermal source. The trial pit broke through several layers of brick and concrete, which were probably laid down in an attempt to manage and stifle the flow of water. (8)

Sources/Archives (9)

  • --- Unpublished document: Jackson, R (ArcHeritage). 2018. The Crescent, Buxton: Archaeological Watching Brief.
  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Leigh, C. 1700. Natural History of Lanchashire, Cheshire and the Peak. Ref: iii. 42.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Short, T. 1734. Mineral Waters of Derby. p. 44.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Martin, B. 1765. The Natural History of Derbyshire. p. 236.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Jewitt, A. 1811. History of Buxton. pp. 32-6.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Haverfield, F. 1905. Victoria County History: Derbyshire, Vol.1. p. 224.
  • <6> Index: NDAT. NDAT: 0552.. 0552.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Walker, J, Walker L & Sheppard, R (TPAT). 1994. Buxton: The Natural Baths.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Pritchard, H (YAT). 2009. Buxton Crescent and Spa, The Crescent, Buxton , Derbyshire: Evaluation Report. 1-3, 26, 45-6.



Grid reference Centred SK 0577 7351 (22m by 19m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (4)

  • EDR3737
  • EDR2752
  • EDR3930
  • EDR4871

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Record last edited

Mar 15 2020 9:47AM

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