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Devonshire Dome

Devonshire Dome

A brief history

The Devonshire Dome is a unique and wonderful grade II* listed building and was first designed by John Carr of York as a stable building for the 5th Duke of Devonshire to accommodate his horses and those of his guests.  The building work began in 1785 and was completed in 1789 notably without a dome.  It was later given to the Buxton Bath Charity by a successive Duke of Devonshire and converted into the Devonshire Royal Hospital which bought healing to sufferers from rheumatism and arthritis for nearly 150 years and became recognised as an international centre of excellence. 


Robert Rippon Duke was the architect responsible for designing the dome and overseeing the architectural conversion to a hospital which was funded by the Cotton District Convalescent Fund. The conversion began in September 1879 and the opening ceremony took place on 11 October 1881.  The hospital continued to develop and flourish instating new on-site mineral water baths built on the lower land adjoining the south front of the hospital in 1914 at the same time that World War One began and the hospital offered the War Office the use of 150 beds for sick and wounded soldiers. 


In 1945 the hospital, like all other independent hospitals, was absorbed into the NHS ceasing to be a charitable concern and in 1948 was managed by the South Manchester hospital authorities.  Sadly, after much local campaigning the hospital closed in 2000 and the building has since been used by the University of Derby. 

What it is used for now?

The building is now used for educational purposes and is also a very desirable venue for weddings and events.

Did you know?

The dome was the world’s largest unsupported dome when it was constructed. It is 45m (150 ft) in diameter and weighs 560 tonnes (which is the equivalent to 40 double-decker buses).

The building was home to both horses and sick people for around 20 years, following the 6th Duke’s decision to allow half of the building to be used as a hospital in 1859.

The hospital was visited by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in January 1905. 

If you stand under the centre of the dome and say something, you will hear your voice echoing back to you!

Our visitor experience...

tells the stories of Buxton, The Crescent, its famous water and the many people who came to seek its cure. Click here to read more.

Our Premium Guided Tours set off in the morning, where you can dive deep into the rich history of our area aided by our warm and wonderful hosts.

For those who prefer to discover at their own pace, the Experience opens to Self-Guided visitors at 1pm.

Large group? Or a sensory tour during quiet times? Please contact us and we can help get that arranged.