19th September 2013
This is a beautiful building with a fascinating history. The original Georgian structure was built in 1785-90 by architect John Carr of York for the 5th Duke of Devonshire. The building was originally conceived of as accommodation for the horses, stable boys and servants of the 18th century high-society visitors who stayed at The Crescent (also designed by John Carr) when they visited Buxton Spa.
The stables were originally designed to accommodate 120 horses, but some accounts record that up to 150 horses stayed at any one time. There was a central circular open air courtyard 180 feet in diameter, surrounded by a Tuscan Doric colonnade of 48 columns, (each 28 feet high!) which was designed to provide an indoor all-weather ride.
In 1859, half of the building was turned into a hospital. Then, in 1878, the whole building was converted to a hospital with wards and rooms radiating off the central space. The building continued to be used as a hospital until the year 2000.
There is an inscription running around the interior which reads:
ONE HALF OF THIS BUILDING WAS GIVEN TO THE USE OF THE POOR BY WILLIAM SPENCER CAVENDISH SIXTH DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE IN THE YEAR 1859 AND CONVEYED TO TRUSTEES AS THE DEVONSHIRE HOSPITAL TOGETHER WITH THE PLEASURE GROUNDS BY WILLIAM CAVENDISH 7TH DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE IN THE YEAR 1868. THE REMAINDER OF THE BUILDING WAS OBTAINED IN THE YEAR 1878 AND THE WHOLE WAS INTERNALLY RECONSTRUCTED BY THE GOVERNORS OF THE COTTON DISTRICTS CONVALESCENT FUND IN THE YEAR 1881.