Buxton is full of the hidden stories of these who came to the take the waters. We’ll never know all of the reasons people came to the town – but a valuable few are recorded in letters and postcards passed down the generations.
This letter was donated to the museum in 2016 and was written by the donor’s grandfather whilst staying at an address nearby on Hardwick Square. It is undated, but we believe the references to spa treatments place it from around 1880 to 1920. It is a sincere and charming message and recalls a time when people came to sample the air and water of Buxton to improve their health and cure a variety of ailments.
Read on below for a transcription.
3 Leyland Cottages
Dear Mamma, Richard, Will, James, Alice and Grandma
I am here alright as you will see and have got beautiful lodgings with a very nice family, and I think I shall be very comfortable. It is a bonny place and a lovely ride to it after you leave Manchester district. I have seen John in the hospital, he is not very much better yet. I shall go and see the doctor tonight or in the morning to see what baths I ought to take. This will cost me five shillings but I think it will be best and then I shall make no mistake. Give kind regards to all enquiring friends and a kiss for all my own.
With best love
Hoping the lads will be very good while I am away and that I shall derive much good from my visit.
I enclose a card with my address on, will write again soon.
The letter is addressed Hardwick Square, which still stands today just around the corner from Buxton Museum which was The Peak Hydropathic Hotel at the time of writing. It is possible that James Brown was treated there. The “baths” that he refers to were varied therapies. These days, some of them look like methods of torture!
Various treatments at Buxton Natural Baths, photographed in the 1940s: