This site once comprised the gardens of Buxton Hall, now the Old Hall Hotel, and the Serpentine or Winding riverside walks. In 1867 the 7th Duke of Devonshire offered £5000 for the building of a Winter Garden on the site if the sum was matched by the town. The money was raised by the Buxton Improvements Company and in 1871 the land as far as Jordans Walk was leased to them. The ground was enclosed and landscaped by Edward Milner who also designed the Winter Garden which comprised a Concert Hall flanked by two Pavilions the whole linked by corridors for promenading. There was a charge for entry for many years. The venture was such a success that the Octagon Hall, designed by Robert Rippon Duke was added in 1876. Later additions included extra land beyond Jordans Walk, landscaped by Adam Hogg in 1880, a theatre (now the Arts Centre) in 1888 and finally the Opera House designed by Frank Matcham which opened in 1903 – this necessitated the re-alignment of the Eastern Pavilion with its linking corridor and the replacement of the main entrance. In 1927 The Buxton Gardens Company which had succeeded the Improvements Company sold out to Buxton Corporation for approximately £30,000. Since that time the complex has had its highs and lows. Interest in outdoor activities such as ice skating, Curling, Bowls, Croquet and the Open Lawn Tennis Championships gradually waned, the Orchestra and the Repertory Theatre were disbanded, The Octagon which had been very popular during the Big Band Era was not suitable for Pop Concerts. In1983 a disastrous fire destroyed the central part of the complex which had housed the Lounge Bar, Restaurant and Kitchens. The advent of the Heritage Lottery fund has been the saviour of the Pavilion Gardens. The grounds were restored between 2004 and 2010 and the complete restoration of the original buildings plus the Octagon is now complete.
Did you know?
Around 1970 a proposal to demolish the Octagon was defeated by one vote by the Council