Skip to main content

Building record MDR8659 - Great Stables, later Devonshire Hospital, Buxton

Type and Period (3)

  • (Georgian - 1770 AD to 1799 AD)
  • (Georgian to Victorian - 1770 AD to 1857 AD)
  • (First World War - 1914 AD to 1914 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • Listed Building (II*)

Full Description

The Great Stables were constructed between 1780 and 1788 as part of the fifth Duke of Devonshire's development of Buxton as a fashionable spa. The building took the form of an irregular octagon that contained an open circular area around which was a colonnade under which visitors could ride when the weather was wet. It provided accommodation for 120 horses. Part of the stables became a hospital in 1857. The building was later extended. In 1881 the then largest ever unsupported dome was put over the open internal courtyard. The clock-tower was added in 1882. Baths were built in the grounds to the south of the main hospital building in 1914, with mineral waters being piped from George Street. (1) The Stables were built in 1785-89 to designs by John Carr to serve the nearby Crescent. Both were erected on behalf of the Duke of Devonshire, in a conscious attempt to promote Buxton as a spa. The Stables, an irregular octagon in plan, contained stalls for 110 horses, a covered ride behind an inner Tuscan colonnade, a central open exercise yard, and accommodation for visitors. In 1858-9, two-thirds of the building was conveyed to the Buxton Bath Charity, which converted it, to designs by Henry Currey, into the Devonshire Hospital. The remaining third, initially retained in use as stabling, was eventually conveyed to the Hospital in 1878. Between 1879 and 1881 a major programme of rebuilding, carried out to designs by Robert R Duke, saw the interior totally remodelled, a vast dome raised over the central courtyard, and a separate block built that included a kitchen, laundry, servants' bedrooms, accident ward, operating room and infectious wards. Shortly after 1881 a lodge was built at the entrance from Devonshire Road. Surgical wards were built in 1897, new baths in 1913-14, and a wing containing dining halls and a kitchen in 1921. In 1934 the hospital became known as the Devonshire Royal Hospital. (2) In late 2003/early 2004 work commenced to turn the building into a University of Derby campus for approximately 2500 students. This included the restoration of many of the building's original features. A hi-tech library and electronic learning centre is to be created in the former hospital dining room, while the former hydrotherapy unit and mineral water treatment baths on the lower floor of the building, which opened in 1914, will enable the university to provide a range of spa treatments. (3) The Dome was reopened as part of the University in October 2005. It includes a restaurant which is open to the public. (4) Originally built as stables, drawings of the hospital by R. Grundy Heape depict the building. (5)

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Leach, J. 1987. The Book of Buxton.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Goodall, I (RCHME). Devonshire Royal Hospital, Devonshire Road, Buxton, RCHME historic building report. HBR No. 102420.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Dodds, J. 2004. 'Dreaming domes will wake to new life', Buxton Advertiser, 12/2/04.
  • <4> Personal Observation: Stroud, G. Personal observation, map evidence, field visit etc..
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Borough of Buxton Publicity Department. 1950. Buxton, The Spa of Blue Waters.



Grid reference SK 05670 73673 (point)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR1762

Please contact the HER for details.

External Links (0)

Record last edited

Mar 29 2023 4:57PM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.