Buxton Museum & Art Gallery re-opened in September 2017 following a huge £1.5m redevelopment, which saw the ‘new’ Wonders of the Peak exhibition completely transformed. This fascinating exhibition tells the story of the geology of the Peak District landscape and archaeological finds which the museum has collected since it first opened in 1893 – we decided to go and have a proper look in detail and explore the brand new gallery, which has received rave reviews since opening.
This part of the museum in particular is unrecognisable and looks fantastic, we were blown away at how well it’s been done.
We’ve picked out 23 of our favourite objects on display in Wonders of the Peak – many of these we’d never spotted previously. Which are YOUR favourite? Why do like them? Do you have any memories about any of these? Get in touch and let us know…
It doesn’t stop there – the brand new mini Buxton exhibition in the foyer has some super Buxton related objects on display too.
The foyer has been completed changed as part of the refit and now features a brand new gift shop with merchandise inspired by Buxton and Peak District historical heritage, objects in the collection and the areas’ archeological roots. The new range includes mugs, coasters, tea towels, cushions and soft toy Woolly Mammoths, Wolves, Hyenas, Sabre Tooth Cats, Bears and more as well as items featuring images of Buxton taken from prints in the museum collection. A large selection of new postcards is also now for sale.
Onto the 23 objects….
The Bank of England produced the first English bank notes in 1694. These notes showed their value by promising to pay the bearer the amount shown; a promise you can still see on banknotes today.
Bottled since 1840, Buxton Water was first sold in torpedo-shaped glass bottles called ‘Hamiltons’. Codd-necked bottles patented in 1870 were better at retaining the bubbles with a rubber washer and marble stopper in their necks. In the 1900s screw capped bottles replaced them.
Coins in the hoard are from 70AD – 410AD, representing the entire period of the Roman occupation of Buxton. The number of coins and their individual value helps the museum to map out how popular the baths were at different times.
Found in Thirst House Cave, Deepdale and Poole’s Cavern in Buxton – where pieces may also have been made. The Romans had arrived in Buxton by about 75AD. The called it Aquae Arnemetiae, after the goddess of the spring, Arnemetiae. Aquae Sulis (Bath) was the only other Roman town in Britain to be named for its water source. The Romans were attracted to Derbyshire’s mineral wealth. They hoped to find both silver and lead.
Buxton promoted itself in various ways over the years but some things don’t change – as seen here.
It is not confirmed that people were in Derbyshire 350,000 years ago but if people were here they would have shared the landscape with wild animals such cave lions, wolves and bears. It is not known why this hand axe was found here – was it dropped by a prehistoric hunter or moved here by glaciers or floods?
Tool making is an essential skill for survival. People returned to the Peak District about 15,000 years ago, after the last ice age. They made many tools from many materials, including wood, antler and bone, but stone tools are more durable so they survive in the greatest number.
The Buxton Bear has become synonymous with Buxton Museum, becoming its unofficial mascot and much loved by locals. It was in fact just included in the original Wonders of the Peak as a prop to enhance the display.
Buxton Museum do not know the provenance of this helmet but it was likely brought to England from Greece by a wealthy tourist as helmets were popular souvenirs during the grand tour.
The display for these beautiful minerals is well worth looking at and there are more than pictured here.
In 1880 the Buxton Gardens hosted a tennis tournament for visitors which, by 1883, was attracting so many entries that in 1884 the proprietors of the Gardens, the Buxton Improvements Company, decided to run a proper open tournament with ladies and gentlemen’s singles played under the title ‘Championship of Derbyshire’ and a ladies doubles played with the imposing title of ‘The All-England Ladies Doubles’. This latter championship was the first of its kind, being inaugurated before Wimbledon, or anyone else, could appropriate this title and it was played under this name until the tournament ceased in the 1950s.