Just before we visited home in March, Minh and I signed up for National Trust membership. National Trust is kind of like English Heritage.. only instead of maintaining ruined buildings and castles, National Trust is all about returning mansions and stately manors to their former glory. That is.. with the exception of Calke Abbey.
Calke Abbey is a country house in the southern part of Derbyshire. Despite it’s name, Calke Abbey was never used as an abbey. It was owned for 300 years by the Harpur family, until it passed to the National Trust in 1985. The family must have been a bunch of hoarders, because there is so much random stuff in the house. The story we heard was that as the owner acquired more things and filled up rooms, those rooms would just get closed off and the next room would get filled. There were tons of interesting things, but the rooms were nearly filled with random collections of stuffed animals, bric-a-brac, etc. etc. Going into the house really is like opening a treasure chest. Because of its unique character, the National Trust decided to keep it in a suspended state of disarray, just like how they purchased it in 1985. You can see from the pictures below just how random it all was.
The National Trust also manages the surrounding gardens, which are in a much better state. The produce from the vegetable gardens gets served up at the onsite cafe. There were also lots of flowers and greenhouses around. And a tunnel that was used for house staff to travel from one end of the property to the other and still keep out of site from the property owners and any guests they may be entertaining. My favorite part of the gardens were the scarecrows. Minh and I aren’t convinced that they work, but they had pretty cool outfits (ties and hats and everything).
Another cool thing about Calke Abbey is that Tollgate Brewery brews and sells beer on site. There is a tunnel that leads from the house, through the cellar, to the brewery. We didn’t purchase any beers when we went, but we might try some next time we come back.
Calke Abbey – National Trust
Ticknall, Derby, Derbyshire, DE73 7LE