Town mouse visits Buxton

The train from Euston to Macclesfield swept through the heart of England, every inch of it bathed in sunshine. Never has it looked so glorious. The grain swelled, the trees-after so many months of rain-remained green, children paddled in brooks.

Buxton, when we reached it, was every bit as sparkling as its water. For all its glories, it used to have a shabby air, but now the Crescent (John Carr’s answer to Bath) is being converted to a luxury hotel and spa. The glass dome of the Pavilion, built in 1871, à la Paxton’s Crystal Palace, which the architect, Edward Milner, had worked on, glinted in the (for Buxton) unfamiliar sun.

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The Pavilion’s new Arts Centre was my destination, to speak about War Memorial as part of the Buxton Festival. New it may be; air conditioning, on a day of roasting heat, it had not. I cooled off by strolling through the elegant pleasure gardens, before taking an illicit peek, while scenery was being shifted, at the delicious Frank Matcham Opera House. I didn’t stop to hear Mozart’s La finta giardiniera, an opera of Wagnerian length written when the composer was 17. The seagulls of Ramsgate were calling me. On the drive to the station, the clouds of cottongrass that drifted across the moor replaced those missing from the sky.

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