The award-winning Pavilion Gardens in Buxton harks back to the great golden era of Victorian public parks, when such amenities were taken seriously. Its 23 acres of perfectly landscaped lawns, flowerbeds, streams, walkways, ornate bridges and pleasant boating lake were designed by Joseph Paxton – the renowned chief gardener at nearby Chatsworth House – providing the fashionable spa town with a picturesque green centre. Following a major restoration project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Grade II listed park remains one of Buxton’s top attractions today.
Outdoors, you’ll find plenty of play areas for kids and a miniature train that takes passengers on a tour of the pleasure gardens, passing the traditional bandstand where local brass bands play and the base of a 2,000-year-old Celtic temple. This much-loved space becomes the epicentre of Buxton in the summer.
Another key reason to visit The Gardens’, however, is for its buildings; a series of beautiful Victorian cast-iron and glass structures positioned along the park’s northern perimeter. The botanical Conservatory is a tropical jungle of rare plants and exotic fish, while the main Pavilion (modelled after London’s Crystal Palace) houses a cafe, tea room, ice cream parlour boasting over 20 flavours, shop selling Buxton-made produce, and art gallery showing work by local artists. Also check out the splendid Octagon – a former concert hall and one of the largest eight-sided buildings in Europe – which hosts regular events, fairs, plays, concerts, artisan markets and antique auctions throughout the year.
Before entering the Gardens, take in the remarkable Buxton Crescent and fill your bottle with the historic spa town’s mineral-rich water at St. Anne’s Well.