In common with many golf courses, each of the 18 holes of Buxton and High Peak Golf Club have a name. While some are easy to understand (often relating to the fabulous views you enjoy), others are a little …… odd.
Standside? I wondered about this for some time and so thought it would be worth a little research.
Langham (2001) tells the story of Phillip Heacock, a native of Etwall. He was the agent for the 6th Duke of Devonshire, appointed soon after the 5th Duke died in 1811. Putting this into context is important because at this time there were lots of things happening in England and beyond. Firstly, we were in the middle of the war with Napoleon and there was a whole industry springing up to make materials for war as Britain spearheaded the industrial revolution. The Chartist movement was underway, generating quite significant unrest in “The North”. Heacock appears to have had the ear of the Duke and a vision for the future of Buxton and was conscious of the pressure on rents and incomes at a time of social change.
So there came about a plan to promote Buxton as a health resort to “tradespeople with money” and to provide “entertainment for the prosperous”. One day, he knew, that war would come to an end and people would need diversions. So he led the development of Buxton as we see it today, creating a road and rail network, planting trees and generally smartening up the town. Many of the classic buildings (Crescent, Devonshire Hospital, Broadwalk promenade, Baths, Opera House and Pavilion Gardens) have their origins around this time. He visited the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park and returned with some of the ideas he saw demonstrated in all their Victorian grandeur. Naturally the Duke gets the credit, but it was Phillip Heacock who had the vision that still makes Buxton remarkable today.
He lived in one of the houses on The Square until his death in 1848 so he must have had an idea of how it was starting to take shape. Leach (1987) provides an idea of how the entertainment side of Buxton was developing around this time, listing a cricket club (1850), a football club (1872), a tennis club (1880) and our very own Buxton and High Peak Golf Club (1886) as well as a range of winter sports. The theatre, cinema and other attractions came later. These clubs are still flourishing, as is the new Buxton Cinema.
A clear and necessary pastime was, of course, horse-racing. Wallis (1930) notes that outside of Buxton there is “a Barm on which races were held”; Barm is another word for common land and there is still a Barm’s Farm at the top of the golf course. Leach (1987) provides more detail. The first recorded “horserace” was in July 1821; this ties in neatly with the vision of Phillip Heacock. There was a Grandstand built pre-1831 and regular meetings held for the next couple of decades.
It is also worth noting that Owen (2003) identifies the importance of Fairfield Vicarage, built around 1620. In the 1800s, a large stable block was added. Perhaps this was to accommodate the horses from the racecourse?
Pigot (1835) describes Fairfield as “a chapelry, in the parish of Hope, in the same hundred as Buxton, 1 mile N.N.E. from that town. Here is an ancient church, dedicated to St. Peter; the living is in the gift of trustees residing in the parish and the present incumbent is the Rev. Geo. Mounsey. On a large tract of waste ground, an excellent round course has been formed, where horse races take place. on the Wednesday and Thursday in the week after the meeting at Newton ith' Willows; for the accommodation of visitors, a handsome stand has been erected. From this village, the best panoramic view of Buxton crescent, &c. is obtained. The population returns of this chapelry present a singular coincidence, the number of inhabitants being 482, at the several censuses taken in 1811, 1821 and 1831.”