Original features

January 29, 2009

In 1779, the 5th Duke of Devonshire appointed architect John Carr to build a magnificent crescent to accommodate those visiting Buxton Spa to take the waters. The structure included the Great Stables, an irregular octagonal structure with a circular Doric colonnade to provide an area for exercising the horses.

During the 19th century, however, the building was converted into a hospital and provided with a dome larger than those of St Peter's Basilica in Rome and St Paul's Cathedral in London. It is so large that decorators have had to use abseiling equipment to paint the interior.

The site eventually became the Devonshire Royal Hospital and then part of the National Health Service, offering hydrotherapy right up to its closure in 2000.

It was then that Roger Waterhouse, at that time vice-chancellor of the University of Derby, stepped in with a bid to provide a new home for the former High Peak College, part of the university.

After a £23 million restoration project - drawing on Victorian building techniques such as the use of lime plaster with goat hair - the Devonshire Campus was officially opened in February 2006.

When the 12th Duke of Devonshire was installed as the university's new chancellor in October 2008, it was in the splendid setting of his ancestor's former Great Stables.

Send suggestions for this architectural series to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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