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Title: Buxton and its Medicinal Waters
Author: Gifford-Bennet, Robert Ottiwell, 1834-1902
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1892 John Heywood edition by David Price, email

                                 AND ITS
                            MEDICINAL WATERS.



         _Senior Acting Physician to the Devonshire Hospital and_
                          _Buxton Bath Charity_.

                                * * * * *

                              JOHN HEYWOOD,
                       2, AMEN CORNER, LONDON, E.C.


Knowing from long experience the powerful action exerted upon the human
system by the Buxton Medicinal Thermal Water, and the unsatisfactory
results arising from its indiscriminate and incautious use, either in the
form of baths or by taking it internally, I have in the following pages,
as briefly and succinctly as possible, endeavoured to make some practical
suggestions for the guidance of those of my professional brethren who
have had no opportunity of becoming personally acquainted with the Buxton
Spa, with the hope that they may prove of service.

                                                               R. O. G. B.

Tankerville House,
      Buxton, May, 1892.


                              CHAPTER I.
Situation—Altitude—Geology—Roman Baths—Climate and                   9
Temperature—Death Rate—Water Supply—Rainfall
Drainage—Railway Communication—Public Buildings—Devonshire
Hospital and Buxton Bath Charity—Visitors’
                             CHAPTER II.
Physiological Functions in Healthy Individuals—Performance          22
of the Physiological Functions in Health and
Disease—Action of Oxygen upon the Nitrogenous and
Non-nitrogenous Compounds—Origin of Calculi, Nodosities,
and Tophi—Action of the Thermal Water upon the Great
Emunctories—Chalybeate Water when Used as a Douche, or
Taken Internally—Analyses of the Waters—Selection of
Buxton by the Romans—First Treatise upon the Buxton Spa,
written by Dr. Jones in 1572—Source and Nature of the
                             CHAPTER III.
Kinds of Baths—Natural and Hot—Action of Thermal Water              31
upon the Skin—Natural Baths—Swimming and Plunge for Males
and Females—Necessity of Caution in their Use—Importance
of Time and Frequency in Taking the Baths—Directions
During and After Bathing—Most Favourable Time for Taking
Warm or Hot Baths—Directions for the Use of Half,
Three-quarters, and Full Baths—Drowsiness after
Bathing—Massage, When and How Used—When Baths
Inadmissible—Hours for Drinking the Medicinal
Waters—Diseases in which the Thermal Water should Not be
                             CHAPTER IV.
Acute Gout and Rheumatism—Chronic Gout and                          41
Rheumatism—Chorea—Many Forms of Paralysis—Muscular Atrophy
consequent upon the Gouty Diathesis—Loco Motor
Ataxia—Syphilis—Local Injuries—Neuralgia—Sciatica,
Lumbago, &c.—Number of Baths Constituting a Course—Length
of Residence Required—Action of Water upon Acute and
Chronic Diseases—Extract from Devonshire Hospital


Situation—Altitude—Geology—Roman Baths—Climate and Temperature—Death
Rate—Water-Supply—Rainfall—Drainage—Railway Communication—Public
Buildings—Devonshire Hospital and Buxton Bath Charity—Visitors’

The ancient town of Buxton, which is situated upon the extreme western
boundary of the county of Derby, at an elevation of 1,000ft. above the
sea level, lies in a deep basin, having a subsoil of limestone and
millstone grit, and is environed on every side by some of the most
romantic and picturesque scenery in the High Peak, hill rising above hill
in wild confusion, some attaining an altitude of from 1,900ft. to

Buxton, or, as originally called, Bawkestanes, was occupied as a military
station by the Romans, who, during their occupancy, constructed baths
over the tepid water springs which issue through fissures in the
limestone rock, where it comes in contact with the millstone grit, as was
proved beyond doubt by the finding of Roman tiles (used in the
construction of their baths) some years ago, when the present baths were
under repair.

Although Buxton is situated at so great an altitude, the mean temperature
for years past (owing, no doubt, in a great measure, to the taste
displayed and forethought shown by the late Mr. Heacock, agent for many
years to his Grace the Duke of Devonshire, in causing the surrounding
hills to be well planted) has averaged about 44° Fahr., only a few
degrees below that of some of the most frequented winter resorts in Great
Britain.  Such a temperature, however, may appear to some to militate
against Buxton as a health resort except during the summer months, but it
must be borne in mind that although the temperature may be said to be
somewhat low (a necessity of its altitude), yet the atmosphere is
especially pure and dry, and, like that of Davos Platz, plays no
inconsiderable part in conducing to the highly-sanitary condition of the

The healthiness of the Buxton district is borne out by the fact that the
death-rate from zymotic disease is lower than that of most other
localities in Great Britain, and that the average annual death-rate from
all forms of disease is only (among the resident population) 10 in 1,000.

The air being so pure and dry exerts a most bracing and tonic effect,
especially in cases where the system has become debilitated from any
cause—anæmia, chlorosis, chronic liver and splenic disease, many forms of
bronchial asthma, the first stage of tuberculosis of the lungs, and
tubercular degeneration of the mesenteric glands in childhood, I have
seen much benefitted by a short residence in the district.  To the
closely-confined and overworked residents in towns the crispness and
buoyancy of the atmosphere impart a feeling of lightness and exhilaration
rarely experienced except in a highland district, making mental and
physical labour less irksome and life more enjoyable.

The water supply of Buxton is abundant, soft, and free from impurities,
doubtless owing to its percolating through the great filter bed of
sandstone to the north of the town, and issues in numerous springs far
above any source of contamination from the inhabitants in the valley

It has been stated (and I think much to the prejudice of Buxton) that the
rainfall of the High Peak, and especially of the Buxton district, is
generally in excess of that of most of the other parts of Great Britain.
Such an assertion is quite incorrect, as may be ascertained by a careful
examination of the rainfall of other localities; although, as in all
hilly districts, we must, on account of the attraction of the hills,
expect a somewhat larger rainfall than on the plains.  The annual average
fall in the neighbourhood of Buxton amounts to about forty-nine inches,
which is much less than that of many localities both in the Northern and
Midland Counties.  Even when there is an exceptionally heavy fall of rain
the porous nature of the subsoil precludes the possibility of an
accumulation of surface water to any great extent.

The following table shows the mean temperature and rainfall for 1890 and
1891, two years in which we have experienced a lower temperature and a
greater rainfall than for some years past, which, I believe, has been the
experience of most other parts of Britain during the same period:—

                  Mean Temperature.               Rainfall.
              1890.         1891.         1890.         1891.
              Deg.          Deg.          inch.         inch.
January               37.6          31.7          6.91          4.58
February              33.1          38.9          .945           .68
March                 40.0          36.0         4.995         3.895
April                 41.1          38.9         1.635          3.40
May                   50.2          45.8          3.21         4.935
June                  52.4          53.3         4.685         2.878
July                  54.7          56.3          4.78          2.52
August                55.2          55.0          6.05          6.45
September             56.0          54.4         1.405         3.505
October               47.2          46.0          4.20         6.595
November              40.0          38.8         9.455         4.535
December              27.8          37.8           1.3         8.745

Mean temperature for 1890 = 44°.6; mean temperature for 1891 = 44°.4.

Rainfall for 1890 = 49.77in.; rainfall for 1891 = 52.718in.

Buxton being built in a valley inclining to the east, and upon the slopes
of the adjoining hills to the south, west, and north, necessitates the
convergence of its system of drainage into a main sewer, which is carried
through the heart of the town to its outskirts, where the contents are
discharged into tanks, and purified by a chemical process submitted to
the town authorities by Dr. Thresh.

The natural incline upon which the town is built greatly facilitated the
sewerage arrangements so ably planned and successfully carried out by the
late Sir Robert Rawlinson.

Two lines of railway, the London and North-Western and Midland, whose
stations are situated adjoining each other to the east end of the town,
and between Buxton and Fairfield, afford every facility of communication
with all parts of Great Britain and Ireland.  The station of the East to
West Railway now in process of formation will be in Higher Buxton, and
will doubtless prove of much convenience to residents in that

Visitors to Buxton, of all classes, will find ample and suitable
accommodation in the numerous hotels, hydros, boarding-houses, and
private apartments.

The Buxton Gardens’ Company’s Pavilion, Music Hall, and Theatre (where
during the season the first artistes are engaged), lawn tennis, skating
rink, golf, cricket, and football clubs, fishing, shooting, and hunting,
provide varied amusements for all tastes.

Mail coaches and charabancs run daily (Sundays excepted) to either
Bakewell, Haddon, Chatsworth, Matlock, Castleton, or Dove Dale, during
the season.  Private conveyances, riding and driving horses, are
procurable by those wishing to visit the numerous places of interest in
the neighbourhood or ride to hounds.

Buxton possesses some very handsome public and private buildings.  The
Crescent, perhaps one of the finest structures of its kind in Europe, has
a frontage of 400ft. and a height of nearly 70ft., and is massive and
bold in design.  Above it is surmounted by an open battlement, which runs
the whole of its length.  In its centre the Devonshire coat of arms
stands out in bold relief.  Along the base of the building a wide open
colonnade extends from one end to the other, and is a great convenience
in going to and from the Baths and drinking fountain in wet weather, or
as a promenade.  It was originally intended for one hotel, but is now
divided into two.  In front is an open semicircular space, extending to
the foot of St. Ann’s Cliff, an extensive piece of ground, tastefully
laid out in terraces and public walks, some of which lead from terrace to
terrace to the public drinking fountain at the base of the slope, and
others to the plateau above, upon which stands the Town Hall, a handsome
and substantially-built structure, recently erected, containing public
and private offices, magisterial and assembly rooms, museum, free
library, reading-room, &c.

The Devonshire Hospital is a large octagonal building surmounted by a
lofty dome, and is situated at the foot of Corbar Hill, being a
conspicuous object from all parts of the town.  It was originally built
for stabling in connection with the Crescent Hotel.  Some years since the
committee of the Buxton Bath Charity, being desirous of providing better
accommodation for those seeking its aid, succeeded, mainly through the
exertions of the late Mr. Wilmot, agent to his Grace the Duke of
Devonshire, in obtaining the duke’s sanction to its conversion to its
present use.

The structural alterations necessitated an outlay of between £30,000 and
£40,000, towards which the committee of the Lancashire Cotton Fund
contributed 24,000, in consideration of a first claim to the occupancy of
150 beds, the entire hospital accommodation being 300 beds.

The dome covers an area of nearly half an acre, and is said to be one of
the largest in the world.  Under its vast expanse between 5,000 and 6,000
people can assemble without overcrowding.  A perfect echo, like that in
the Baptistry at Pisa, is heard slightly away from beneath its centre.

The hospital is open to the inspection of visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
at a small charge, which is appropriated for the purpose of purchasing
books for the library, a great boon to the crippled patients.

The Palace Hotel, a large and imposing building, stands within its own
grounds, beautifully situated and laid out, close to the London and
North-Western and Midland Railway stations.  Being elevated considerably
above the town, a panoramic view of Higher and Lower Buxton, St. Ann’s
Cliff, Broad Walk, the Crescent, and Buxton Gardens is obtained from its
windows, and in the distance Axe Edge, 1,950ft., Harpur Hill, Diamond
Hill (so-called from the Derbyshire diamond being found there), Solomon’s
Temple, and Hindlow are in full view.

There are many other buildings worthy of notice, amongst which I may
mention the churches of St. John and St. James, Pavilion Music Hall,
Theatre, Union Club, the Buxton, Peak, and Haddon Grove Hydropathic
Establishments.  As the town is rapidly extending, many very pretty
villas have recently sprung up in the park and neighbourhood, from whence
are obtained the finest views of Buxton and the surrounding hills.

Buxton is well supplied with places of public worship, St. John’s, St.
James’s, St. Anne’s, and Trinity, belonging to the Church of England;
Hardwick Street Chapel, Congregationalists; the Park and Market Place
Chapels, Wesleyan Methodists; London Road Chapel, Primitive Methodists;
St. Ann’s Chapel, Terrace Road, Roman Catholic; and Harrington Road
Chapel, Unitarian.  The Presbyterians hold services every Sunday (during
the season) in the Town Hall, morning and evening.

The staple industry of Buxton and the neighbourhood consists in the
burning of limestone, and the manufacture of inlaid marble vases, tables,
&c, some of which are tastefully designed, and form very elegant and
beautiful ornamental decorations for the drawing-room, &c.

The naturalist, the botanist, and the geologist will find Nature’s
hand-book, spread wide open over the hills and dales of the Peak, for
their inspection.  The archæologist and the antiquarian may wander to the
top of Cowlow, Ladylow, Hindlow, Hucklow, or Grindlow, and picture in
imagination the savage and warlike aborigines of the High Peak, wending
their way up the precipitous sides of the hill, carrying their dead
chieftain to his last resting-place on the mountain summit, where,
placing him in a cyst, made of rough unhewn stones, they cover him up
with earth, leaving his spirit to find its way to the happy
hunting-grounds of the unseen; or watch the wild and barbarous rites
performed by the Druidical priest within the precincts of Arbor Low
Circle; or contemplate the savage hordes of Danes, as they lie encamped
on the slopes of Priestcliff; or follow the footsteps of a hardy cohort
of Rome’s picked soldiers, as it moves with steady precision through the
High Peak Forest, and ascends the rugged side of Coomb’s Moss, to pitch a
camp on the spur of Castle Naze.

The antiquarian may take his stand upon Mam-Tor, the mother rock, when
the moon sheds her silvery light o’er Loosehill Mount, and, carrying his
mind back into the past some 230 years, hear the bugle’s note as it
sweeps through the Wynnats Pass, and is taken up by the Peverel Castle
and transmitted onwards through the Vale of Hope, calling the hardy
dalesmen to their midnight rendezvous, there to be instructed in the
science of war, so as to enable them to protect their homes and families
against the marauding myrmidons of a cruel, heartless, and unreliable
king; or if the antiquarian seeketh a knowledge of the High Peak
folk-lore, and feareth neither pixie or graymarie, he can, on a spring
night, just as the moon has entered her last quarter, and the first note
from the belfry of the chapel in the frith has proclaimed the arrival of
midnight, take his stand upon Blentford’s Bluff and peer into the dark
and sombre depths of Kinder, when he will hear the hooting of the barn
owl on Anna rocks, the unearthly screech of the landrail as he ploughs
his way through the unmown grass in search of his mate, the scream of the
curlew and chatter of the red grouse as they take their flight from peak
to peak, and see the fairy queen come forth from the mermaid’s cave in a
shimmering light, followed by her maids, who dance a quadrille to the
music of the spheres, and hear the wild blast of the hunter’s horn
heralding the approach of the Gabriel hounds as they take their rapid
course across the murky sky, and become lost in the unfathomable depths
beyond the Scout.


Physiological Functions in Healthy Individuals—Performance of the
Physiological Functions in Health and Disease—Action of Oxygen upon the
Nitrogenous and Non-nitrogenous Compounds—Origin of Calculi, Nodosities,
and Tophi—Action of the Thermal Water upon the Great
Emunctories—Chalybeate Water when used as a Douche, or Taken
Internally—Analyses of the Waters—Selection of Buxton by the Romans—First
Treatise upon the Buxton Spa, written by Dr. Jones in 1572—Source and
Nature of the Waters.

In a healthy individual, where the physiological functions are performed
with exactitude and regularity, the elimination of the various effete
matters, the result of waste of tissue, is uniform, and easily carried
off out of the system by the skin, the kidneys, lungs, and bowels.  The
nitrogenous components become oxidised, and urea ultimately formed, which
being very soluble is freely excreted by the sudorific glands in the
perspiration, and by the kidneys in the urine.  The non-nitrogenous
compounds are also changed by the action of oxygen into carbonic acid,
which is expelled from the system by the lungs.  If the natural functions
are not perfectly and with regularity performed, the balance of power
must of necessity be lost, and disease engendered.  The system then
becomes charged with uric acid, which has a strong affinity for certain
bases in the human organism, and forms salts either insoluble or only
slightly so, which are with difficulty eliminated either by the skin or
kidneys, and hence we have the formation of calculi in the bladder,
nodosities on the joints, and tophi in the ears, indicating the uric acid

The action of the Buxton nitrogenous thermal waters being solvent,
stimulant, antacid, chologoge, diuretic, diaphoretic, and slightly
purgative, restores the balance of power, not only by stimulating the
gastric and hepatic organs to a correct performance of their normal
functions, thus in conjunction with a strictly regulated diet (essential
in all cases) cutting off the very source of the materies morbi, but also
(when there) by eliminating it from the system by the great emunctories,
viz., the skin, kidneys, lungs, and bowels.  As the large proportion of
invalid visitors to Buxton consist of those suffering from the uric acid
or gouty diathesis, and rheumatism, and seek relief from the excruciating
pains and cripplement incident to such diseases, the great attraction
must of necessity be the medicinal waters, of which there are two
kinds—the cold chalybeate or iron spring, and the natural thermal water.
Of the former there are numerous springs in the neighbourhood of Buxton,
but the only one now resorted to has been conveyed through pipes from a
distance to a room adjoining the natural baths, and is used with much
benefit in many forms of uterine disease as a douche.  As such also it is
prescribed in cases where the conjunctivæ are in a relaxed condition,
consequent either upon rheumatic inflammation or local injuries.  It
should on no account be applied to the eyes until the inflammatory action
has entirely subsided.

When drunk, one tumbler (twice or thrice daily after meals) may be taken
by an adult with much advantage when suffering from anæmia, chlorosis,
amenorrhœa, dysmenorrhœa, diabetes connected with the gouty diathesis,
chronic cystitis, or general debility.

Although it may be classed as a mild chalybeate, I have frequently seen
great benefit derived from its internal use (partly, no doubt, owing to
the presence of sulphate of lime), especially in children of an
undoubtedly strumous habit, where glandular swellings presented
themselves in the neck, and the mesenteric glands were enlarged.  In such
cases, when taken regularly for some weeks (half a tumbler thrice daily
after meals), the appetite returns, the digestive functions are improved,
the glandular swellings subside, and the whole system becomes
reinvigorated, so as to restore bloom to the cheek, brilliancy to the
eyes, vigour to the limbs, and the natural buoyancy of spirit to

According to Dr. L. Playfair’s analysis in 1852, one gallon of the water
was found to contain the following solid constituents:—

Pro-carbonate of Iron              1.044
Silica                             1.160
Sulphate of Lime                   2.483
Alumina                            trace
Sulphate of Magnesia               0.431
Carbonate of Magnesia              0.303
Sulphate of Potash                 0.147
Chloride of Sodium                 1.054
Chloride of Potassium              0.450

The thermal water, as before stated, arises from various fissures in the
limestone rock, upon which formation the greater part of the town of
Buxton is built.  The flow is uniform (during the heat and drought of
summer, and the cold and frost of winter) in volume, about 140 gallons
per minute, in temperature 82 deg.  Fahrenheit, and in solid

According to the latest analysis, made by Dr. Thresh in 1881, the
following results were obtained.  The mud which had settled around the
mouths of the springs and floors of the tanks into which the water is
conveyed consisted of—

Oxide of Manganese                          80.32
Sulphate of Barium, Sand, &c.                1.08
Lead Oxide                                   0.15
Copper Oxide                                 0.07
Molybdic Acid                                0.02
Iron and Aluminium Oxide                     1.36
Cobalt Oxide                                 0.30
Zinc Oxide                                   0.46
Barium Oxide                                 0.79
Calcium                                      5.31
Strontium                                   trace
Magnesium                                    3.18
Carbon Dioxide                               3.23
Phosphoric Acid                              0.01
Water                                        3.93

The following is the result of his analysis of the water:—

Bicarbonate of Calcium                14.01
Bicarbonate of Magnesium               6.02
Bicarbonate of Iron                    0.03
Bicarbonate of Manganese               0.03
Sulphate of Barium                     0.05
Sulphate of Calcium                    0.26
Sulphate of Potassium                  0.62
Sulphate of Sodium                     0.84
Nitrate of Sodium                      0.03
Chloride of Sodium                     0.02
Chloride of Magnesium                  0.95
Chloride of Ammonium                  trace
Silicic Acid                           0.95
Organic Matter                         0.02
Carbon Dioxide                         0.20
Nitrogen                               0.19

There were also traces of lead, strontium, lithium, and phosphoric acid.

As the gas issued from the fissures in the limestone rock, it was found
to consist of 99.22 grains of nitrogen, 0.88 grain of carbonic acid, and
that held in solution in the water, 6.1 cubic inches nitrogen, 4.1
carbonic acid.

In comparing Dr. Thresh’s analysis with those previously made by Drs.
Pearson, Muspratt, Sir Charles Scudamore, and Sir Lyon Playfair, it will
be seen that a new constituent appears in the form of molybdinum, which,
as mentioned above, was detected in the mud deposit at the bottom of the
tanks into which the water is conveyed, as it issues directly from the
springs.  In other respects the analyses differ but slightly, nor does
the efficacy of the water appear to have become less potent in
alleviating or curing those diseases for which it is so deservedly

The Romans, ever luxurious in their use of hot and tepid baths, doubtless
selected the Buxton basin as a station, not merely from a military point
of view, but on account of the thermal springs, the curative effects of
which they would readily discover by receiving fresh energy to their
wearied bodies, from the stimulating action of the water immediately upon
taking a bath, as well as relief from many diseases, especially of a
rheumatic character, to which their life of hardship and exposure
rendered them so liable.

From the Roman period until about the year 1572 there is little or no
recorded history of Buxton.  About that time, however, a Dr. Jones wrote
a treatise on the Buxton Spa, advocating its claims so forcibly to those
afflicted with gout or rheumatism that ere long it became the resort of
the _elite_ in the fashionable world as well as the poor.

Dr. Jones mentions in his very interesting treatise that in his time
Buxton was resorted to by large numbers of the poor and afflicted people
from the surrounding districts.  The indigence and deplorable condition
of some of these people were so extreme and their numbers so great that
to supply their necessities the whole of the “treasury of the bath fund
was consumed, part of which the people of the adjoining chapelry of
Fairfield claimed for the purpose of paying the stipend of their
chaplain.”  So great indeed became the grievance that they by petition
sought the protection of Queen Elizabeth in the matter.

Dr. Jones, in his quaint and forcible way, writes in reference to the
“treasury of the bath” fund: “If any think this magisterial imposing on
people’s pockets let them consider their abilities and the sick poor’s
necessities, and think whether they do not in idle pastimes throw away in
vain twice as much yearly.  It may entail the blessings of them who are
ready to perish upon you, and will afford a pleasant after-reflection.
God has given you physic for nothing; let the poor and afflicted (it may
be members of Christ) have a little of your money, it may be better for
your own health.  Heaven might have put them in your room, and you in
theirs, then a supply would have been acceptable to you.”

As the thermal water issues from the various fissures in the limestone
rock, it is slightly alkaline, bright, sparkling, of a blueish tint,
especially when collected in bulk, and soft and rather insipid in taste.


Kinds of Baths—Natural and Hot—Action of Thermal Water upon the
Skin—Natural Baths—Swimming and Plunge for Males and Females—Necessity of
Caution in their Use—Importance of Time and Frequency in Taking the
Baths—Directions During and After Bathing—Most Favourable Time for Taking
Warm or Hot Baths—Directions for the Use of Half, Three-quarters, and
Full Baths—Drowsiness after Bathing—Massage, When and How Used—When Baths
Inadmissible—Hours for Drinking the Medicinal Waters—Diseases in which
the Thermal Water should Not be Drunk.

There are two kinds of baths, viz., the natural and hot.  The natural
bath is so called because the water used in its formation is at the
natural temperature, as it issues from the perforations in the floor of
the baths.  The stream being continuous and large in volume, an overflow
is provided at the top of each bath, which not only secures constant
change of water for the bathers, with corresponding purity, but much
greater medicinal action upon the system.

The water renders the skin smooth and pliant, probably on account of its
alkaline character and the large amount of free nitrogen suspended in it.
Its alkalinity also saponifies the fatty acids on the surface of the
body, cleanses and opens up the sudorific glands, and thus assists the
free absorption of the nitrogen into the system.  Brisk rubbing of the
skin (whilst in the water) with the hands promotes a similar result.

Under the head of natural baths are included large swimming, plunge, or
public baths for males and females, also private ones fitted up with
every modern comfort and convenience, which are situated at the west-end
of the Crescent, adjoining the pump-room or drinking fountain.

As the medicinal thermal water of Buxton is admitted to be very powerful
in its action upon the human system, it is absolutely necessary that it
should be used with the greatest care.  I have known many accidents and
even deaths take place from the incautious use of the natural baths by
persons wilfully or negligently taking it in a totally unfit state of
health, or by remaining in the water too long.  When used as a bath at
the natural temperature, the water is buoyant and emollient to the skin,
and produces a sense of exhilaration both to the body and mind of the
bather.  But if indulged in too frequently or too long at one time, this
beneficial effect is entirely lost, and instead of the glow of heat which
ordinarily takes place directly after immersion, the surface of the body
becomes chilled and covered with what is commonly called “goose” skin, a
sense of oppression and discomfort ensues, erratic pains are developed,
and the mind becomes greatly depressed.  The bath, therefore, should not
be taken more than two or at most three days consecutively, nor should
the immersion extend beyond seven or eight minutes.  It is well for the
bather to take gentle exercise prior to entering the bath, in order that
the surface of the body may not be chilled, but rather in a glow upon
immersion.  If after being in the water a few minutes a feeling of
persistent chilliness ensues, the bather should leave the bath, get
rubbed down with a hot rough towel, dress as quickly as possible, and
then return home, where he should remain until reaction is perfectly
established.  When the natural bath is prescribed during the summer
months, viz., from the commencement of June until the end of September or
the first week in October, to those capable of locomotion the best time
for bathing is from 6 to 8 o’clock a.m., but when incapable of walking
from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The bather should invariably (when taking a
natural bath) lave the water over the face, neck, and chest, prior to
plunging into it, and should not remain more than seven or eight minutes
immersed, the two last minutes being occupied in applying the douche to
the parts specially indicated in the doctor’s prescription.  When a
longer time is indulged in, frequently reaction does not take place, but
chilliness and discomfort ensue, and the rheumatic pains are increased in
severity rather than diminished.  Energetic friction of the joints and
surface of the body generally, with the hands beneath the water, should
be resorted to, and gentle rubbing through a hot towel immediately upon
leaving the bath, after which the bather should at once go to the
drinking fountain and take the prescribed quantity of the thermal water.
Instead, however, of at once returning home, if possible, a sharp brisk
walk should be taken, so as to secure a full action upon the skin and
kidneys.  The bath may be taken between ten and one o’clock, or four and
six, observing the same rules as to meals as given when speaking of the
hot baths.  The latter hours would apply to all cases except the very
mildest during the winter months.

The most favourable time for taking the warm or hot baths is between ten
a.m. and one p.m., provided that breakfast is not taken later than nine,
and luncheon before half-past one, it being of paramount importance that
they should not be used either directly after or before a meal.  The hot
baths may be taken either as half, three-quarters, or full baths,
according to the nature of the case and the condition of the bather.

In the first of these (viz., a half-bath), which immerses the body no
higher than the waist, it is well to apply a towel wrung out of cold
water to the head, at the same time (especially in the case of females)
wearing an oilskin bathing cap, to prevent the hair from getting wet.
Cold to the head is of signal advantage when there is persistent
headache, or a tendency of blood to that part.  In cases of acute
sciatica, congestion of the liver, spleen, and kidneys, accompanied by a
general sluggishness and torpidity of the portal circulation, frequently
very painfully indicated by internal or external hemorrhoids, the hot
sitz bath gives very speedy relief.

In a sitz or three-quarters bath the bather should, immediately upon
entering the water, lave it over the face, neck, and chest.  After being
in the bath five minutes, two more should be devoted to the application
of the douche, first to the spine and then to the joints and other parts
particularly affected, with the exception of those inflamed and painful,
which should not be douched but gently rubbed with the hands beneath the
surface of the water, in order to promote free cutaneous circulation and
absorption of the nitrogen gas through the skin.

After leaving a full hot bath the body should at once be enveloped in a
warm sheet and friction applied over the whole surface.  Dressing should
be accomplished as rapidly as possible in order that a chill may be
avoided, and then the bather, if able to walk (if not, in a bath chair),
should go to the drinking fountain at the west-end of the Crescent, where
either a large or small tumbler of the thermal water (as prescribed)
should be drunk, and then return home, where rest upon a sofa or bed
should be taken for at least an hour, the body being well covered with
rugs, &c., so as to promote, as much as possible, an action upon the skin
and consequent elimination of the gouty and rheumatic poison through its
pores by free perspiration.

Frequently, after taking one of the hot medicinal baths, a feeling of
drowsiness steals over the bather, and it has been thought by some
medical men that sleep should not be indulged in.  During a long
experience in prescribing the medicinal baths of Buxton 1 have never
observed any ill effects ensue from giving way to sleep, and therefore
allow my patients to follow their own inclination in the matter.  When
the bather has been covered up for a quarter of an hour, and the skin
acts freely, he or she may begin to throw off some of the wraps, thus
permitting the surface of the body to cool by degrees.  When a full hour
has been accomplished, the ordinary occupations and duties of the day may
be resumed.  It is not advisable, however, to risk exposure in an open
conveyance for at least three hours after taking a hot bath, as might be
done after using a natural one.

The massage bath may be used with most advantage between ten-thirty and
twelve a.m., and three and five p.m.  It is not advisable to take the
massage bath within two hours after a meal, or less than one before.
Massage, or kneading of the whole body, is carried out in this bath after
which a steam douche or a warm spray is turned upon the affected parts,
according to the nature of the case.

Chronic rheumatic arthrites, with painful and contracted muscles,
obstinate lumbago, diaphragmatic, intercostal, periosteal, and synovial
rheumatism, and sprains and injuries to joints, are greatly benefited by
the application of massage, followed by the hot steam douche or warm
spray.  Much relief is obtained from the application of the douche (first
hot and then reduced to tepid or cold, according to the nature of the
case) in subacute rheumatic arthritis, long-standing sciatica, facial
neuralgia or tic douloureux, intermittent headache, spinal irritation,
chorea or St. Vitus’ dance, wrist drop (from lead poison), writers’
cramp, where there is the rheumatic diathesis, and paralysis agitans, &c.

The Buxton medicinal baths, either at their natural temperature, or when
the water is artificially heated, are, on account of their powerful
action upon the human system, quite inadmissible in all cases where there
is acute inflamation of any organ.  In extensive valvular disease of the
heart, especially when accompanied with regurgitation, or advanced
degeneracy of that organ, atheromatous degeneration or aneurism of the
larger arteries, lung disease, in an advanced stage, especially when
connected with the phthisical diathesis, asthma, or amphipneuma,
complicated with fatty degeneration or dilatation of the heart,
giddiness, vertigo, or sudden faintness consequent upon organic disease,
the baths should not be taken, except locally, and even then with the
greatest caution.  When so used the affected parts may be sponged with
the thermal water heated to the prescribed degree.  An ordinary compress
soaked in the heated water may often be advantageously worn continuously
over an inflamed joint, congested liver, inactive kidneys, or irritable

When the thermal water is only prescribed, the most favourable time for
drinking it is from seven to eight and eleven to twelve a.m., and from
four to five p.m., but when ordered to be taken in conjunction with the
chalybeate, the former should be taken in the morning and the latter in
the afternoon.  It has been customary for some medical men to prescribe
the two waters mixed together.  My own experience leads me to think that
such a mode of using them (in a great measure) destroys the efficacy of
the thermal by reducing its temperature, and driving off one of its most
active and essential constituents, viz., the nitrogen gas.

The water can be drunk with safety in most cases, but there are some in
which it is as inadmissible as the use of the baths.

In acute cystitis, advanced stage of Bright’s disease, certain forms of
dyspepsia, irritation in the urinary passages, either in the male or
female, drinking the thermal water should not be resorted to.  The mucous
membrane under its influence becomes more irritable, and where the
urinary passages are specially involved, the impulsive efforts to void
urine are extremely painful and distressing, the urine being reduced to
mere driblets, and sometimes even to complete retention.  Constant
sickness, either arising from mucous inflammation or ulcer of the
stomach, contra—indicate the use of the thermal water.


Acute Gout and Rheumatism—Chronic Gout and Rheumatism—Chorea—Paralysis
Agitans—Many Forms of Paralysis—Muscular Atrophy consequent upon the
Gouty Diathesis—Loco Motor Ataxia—Syphilis—Local
Injuries—Neuralgia—Sciatica, Lumbago, &c.—Number of Baths Constituting a
Course—Length of Residence Required—Action of Water upon Acute and
Chronic Disease—Extract from Devonshire Hospital Report—Inference.

The following are amongst the principal diseases for the relief of which
the Buxton medicinal thermal water is deservedly celebrated: Acute gout
and rheumatism (in neither of which can the baths be taken with advantage
until the acute or inflammatory stage has subsided), the water may be
used locally, either by sponging or wearing a compress over the affected
parts, and also internally, two or even three quarts, being drunk in the
twenty-four hours.

In the acute stage of gout or rheumatic fever, when the water is drunk in
large quantity daily, profuse perspiration of a critical nature takes
place about the sixth day, and is usually succeeded in twenty-four hours
by a measly eruption over the whole surface of the body and extremities,
quickly followed by a total subsidence of all the acute symptoms, leaving
the patient free from pain and on the high road to convalescence.  Under
its influence the urine becomes copious, the muddy brickdust deposit
disappears, and the normal specific gravity and action upon litmus paper
is restored.  The sudorific glands over the whole cutaneous surface
receive a fresh stimulus, thus assisting to eliminate the materies morbi,
and making the skin cool and moist, which prior to drinking the water was
dry, hot, and parched.  A direct action upon the liver is also obtained,
as indicated by the relaxed condition of the bowels, and the perceptible
increase of bile in the motions.  Such being the action of the Buxton
thermal water, it will be readily understood how the distressing and
excruciating pains of an attack of acute gout or rheumatism are so
quickly relieved, and the sufferer restored to comparative comfort.

Chronic gout and rheumatism: These diseases are much more common than the
acute forms, and are greatly benefited both by the use of the baths and
drinking of the water.

In such cases the baths may be prescribed either hot or natural,
according to the nature and character of the complaint, and may be taken
each day, every other day, or even two or three days consecutively.  The
temperature, frequency, time of immersion, and amount of water to be
drunk after bathing, are usually given by the medical adviser in his

The above remarks apply equally to the various forms of chronic
rheumatism, chorea, paralysis agitans, infantile paralysis, hysterical
paralysis, mercurial and lead poisoning, muscular atrophy; rigid atrophy,
consequent upon the rheumatic diathesis; locomotor ataxia, as a result of
rheumatism; syphilis, or local injury; cranial, facial, and intercostal
neuralgia; sciatica, lumbago, and their allied affections, especially of
a neurotic nature.

The number of baths which constitute a course are usually reckoned at
from 15 to 17, which necessitates a residence in Buxton of about one
month, provided they can be steadily and uninterruptedly continued
throughout that period.  If, however, the course has to be discontinued
on account of the supervention of acute symptoms (not an unfrequent
occurrence) a longer residence is required.  Some persons (though all
goes on regularly) require more and some less, according to the age,
strength, and constitution of the bather and nature of the case.  As a
rule, experience teaches that the younger the individual, and the more
recent and acute the disease, the fewer number of baths will be requisite
to give permanent relief, the full effects of the medicinal water being
obtained more rapidly, and the ultimate result being more satisfactory.
This, however, need not be a discouragement to those advanced in life,
whose misfortune it has been to suffer from repeated attacks of gout or
rheumatism, as may be gathered from a perusal of the annual report of the
Devonshire Hospital, an institution mainly for the reception of patients
of all ages, suffering from the gouty and rheumatic diatheses.

Subjoined I give an extract from the medical report of the Hospital,
which clearly indicates the nature and character of those diseases
specially benefited by the use of the Buxton thermal water.  According to
the report, 2,351 patients were admitted under treatment during 1891,
2,222 suffering from gout rheumatism or some of the allied affections,
and 129 unconnected with either diatheses.  The following types of
disease, as connected with the two diatheses, are included in the 2,351:—

Rheumatism                                         1322
Specific Rheumatism                                   5
Podagra                                              51
Rheumatic Arthritis                                 550
Synovitis                                             2
Chronic Periostitis                                   1
Sciatica                                            197
Lumbago                                              15
Sciatica and Lumbago                                 14
Neuralgia                                            10
Peripheral Neuritis                                   3
Poliomyelitis Anterior Chronica                       1
Lateral Sclerosis                                     7
Progressive Muscular Atrophy                          1
Pseudo, Hypertrophic Muscular Paralysis               1
Locomotor Ataxia                                     15
Multiple Sclerosis                                    1
Chronic Myelitis                                      1
Hemiplegia                                            8
Chorea                                               10
Paralysis Agitans                                     1
Lead Poisoning                                       10

I find that during thirty-two years, the Devonshire Hospital, which
contains 300 beds, has admitted between fifty-two and fifty-three
thousand patients, suffering principally from the various forms of gout
rheumatism and those diseases which are allied to them.  Out of this vast
number were returned only 6,753, having obtained no relief, which may be
accounted for by the fact that most of these latter were labouring under
affections unconnected with either gout or rheumatism.  These figures
will, I think, be admitted as conclusive evidence of the medicinal
efficacy of the Buxton Spa in relieving suffering humanity from some of
the most painful and intractable forms of disease to which high and low,
rich and poor, are alike amenable.

                                * * * * *

         JOHN HEYWOOD, Excelsior Printing and Bookbinding Works,

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