The Buxton Spa Mysteries

New Series of mystery novels set in 1920s Buxton

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The Buxton Spa Mysteries

New Series of mystery novels set in 1920s Buxton make ideal Christmas gift or just a good read if you enjoy Buxton.

In 2012, the Buxton Town Team was formed and a bid was made on behalf of Buxton to be a “Portas pilot Town” and, although that bid was unsuccessful, the Town Team continued to work for the benefit of the town and aimed to bring in more visitors.

Celia Harwood wanted to support this initiative. She was aware, from her knowledge of the town’s history, that providing accommodation and attractions for visitors has always been central to the town’s existence and the basis of its prosperity. She also thought the present town was under-valued and deserved to be better known, both because of its unique setting and beautiful architecture and because of its interesting history. Wanting to revive appreciation of the town and aware that many people are not interested in reading history books, she conceived the idea of re-creating the atmosphere of the town in a series of novels. Thus, the Buxton Spa Mystery Series came into being.

Pavilion Gardens

This series of books combines the classic style murder mystery with background information about the history of Buxton and its buildings and the characters take part in events which actually did take place in the town in the 1920s. There are now three novels in the series. The action takes place against the backdrop of the changes brought about by WWI and the devastating effect that War had on ordinary people.

Widow’s Peak, the first book in this series, is dedicated to Betty Allen, who was part of the inspiration for the book. Many people will remember Betty and her husband, Harold, from Allens the Grocers, the shop on the corner of West Road at the Five Ways where you could buy good bacon and as well as European cheeses, delicacies, and wine. Betty has lived in Buxton all her life and has played an active part in the life of the town. She has provided many anecdotes and reminiscences which have helped fill out the details of the town’s history. Betty has just recently celebrated her 100th birthday.

The Buxton Spa mystery series

Buxton Opera House

The central character in the series is Eleanor Harriman, who works in her father’s legal firm of Harriman & Talbot, located on Hall Bank (and yes, there was a female solicitor practising in Buxton in the 1920s). Eleanor finds herself called upon to solve various murders. Sometimes she is assisted by her friend, Dr Catherine Balderstone (yes, there was a female doctor practising in Buxton in the 1920s) and sometimes by her friend Philip Danebridge, the cousin of her fiancé who was killed in France. She is usually accompanied by her Boxer dog, Napoleon.

The books in the series are Widow’s Peak, Autumn’s Peak, and Waters Speak.

The latest book, Waters Speak, was published on 21st August 2017.

The Buxton Spa Mysteries

Hall Bank, looking across to the Old Hall Hotel and the Devonshire Dome (formerly the Devonshire Royal Hospital)

Waters Speak

In May 1922, Mr Walter Steen has great plans for Buxton Spa and the distribution of its famous water to a wider market but there is mounting opposition to his project and increasing animosity towards him from various groups within the town, including the members of the Burbage Ladies’ Golf Club. When a visiting archaeologist from the University of Liverpool is attacked and left for dead, local solicitor Eleanor Harriman begins an investigation which requires her to solve a murder and save the golf course from destruction.

The Buxton Spa Mysteries

The Buxton Spa Mysteries

Palace Hotel, Devonshire Dome and Broadwalk in winter

The Burbage Ladies’ Golf Club did, in fact, exist between 1899 and 1924 on land between Green Lane and Macclesfield Road. The former golf course is now covered by housing and many residents of that area probably have no idea that their street follows the line of the fourth fairway or that their house is located on the seventh hole or the site of the old club house.

Copies of the books in the series can be ordered via Celia Harwood’s website at for £8.99 each with FREE postage and packaging.

All books are also on sale at Higher Buxton Post Office, 12a High Street, Buxton for £8.99 each and also at Hassop Station Cafe (along the Monsal Trail), Hassop Rd, Bakewell DE45 1NW

Waterstones: Waters Speak and Widows Peak are available books via Waterstones Books at £8.99 each plus post + packaging.