To the left of Buxton’s famed crescent lies a Victorian drinking fountain, the Samuel Turner Memorial Drinking Fountain, which is instantly recognisable by its unusual surmounted lamp. Sample Buxton’s famed drinking water at this historic landmark, erected in dedication to Samuel Turner (1804-1876), a local builder and esteemed trustee of the Devonshire Hospital and Buxton Bath Charity.
The fountain itself consists of an ashlar base and four fountain faces, also set in ashlar. One side of the fountain features the face of a lion, which peers over a marble bowl. Perched on top is the lofty lamp made of iron – the defining characteristic of the whole monument.
Given its positioning, it’s impossible to miss this landmark while visiting Buxton, and is a great way to sample Buxton’s unique water.
Samuel Turner was somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades around the Buxton area; he was mainly a builder, but also acted as an agent for the Devonshire Estate Office, an administrator for the Devonshire Hospital and Buxton Bath Charity, the head director of the Buxton Improvements Company, and, also, served as a church warden for forty years. On top of all these duties Turner performed within Buxton, he was also lauded locally for his diplomatic skills, and was pivotal in securing railway stops in his hometown.
After Turner passed away in 1876, money was raised by local people to erect a memorial. Chosen to design the fountain was renowned architect Robert Rippon Duke, who, having lived in Buxton since 1831, had designed some of the town’s most definitive buildings, such as the Octagon Concert Hall at Buxton Pavilion Gardens. The fountain was erected in 1878, with the inscription: A native of Buxton, an active and useful townsman, a good neighbour, and a kind friend.
It stood for nearly 80 years, until a van crashed into it in 1959, damaging it so much that it had to be removed and put into storage. Years later, in 1994, it was finally restored and returned to its original place.
Having failed to draw water for a number of years, the pump was restored in 2019 in what a joint restoration project of both the water fountain and the nearby Taylor Well. A large crowd gathered in April of 2019 to celebrate the return of the working well and drinking fountain.
How to Get There
This historic monument is very easy to find, located in the middle of Buxton’s town centre crescent.
Good to Know
– Bring a water bottle to sample Buxton’s delicious water; its free, so why not stock up!
– Given the fountain’s positioning near to the picturesque architecture of Buxton crescent, the landmark makes for a terrific photo opportunity.
Things to See & Do While at Samuel Turner Memorial Drinking Fountain
It is worth spending a bit of time marvelling at the historic grade-I listed Buxton Crescent, which stands as a testament as to why Buxton is described as the ‘Bath of the North’. Originally built for 5th Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish, as part of his campaign to transform Buxton into a Georgian spa town.
Closer to the crescent itself, visitors will find St Ann’s Well, a warm, natural spring where visitors can feel the naturally warm waters that originally attracted the Romans to the elevated land in which Buxton now lies upon. The well has changed many times since the Roman period. The current well was constructed in 1940 and is referred to locally as ‘the lion’s head’.
The crescent area is also home to Buxton’s main war memorial, standing slightly elevated on the sloping hills that surround the crescent itself. Measuring 8 metres in height, ‘the slopes’ memorial is made of ashlar stone, and was designed by Louis Fredrick Roslyn, who also constructed the monument in 1920.