The Unusual – A house frozen in time

Calke AbbeyThe Unusual – A house frozen in time


My gratitude to Trevor Rickard for this photo. Mine wasn't good enough to use for some reason and was out of focus. (Perhaps I need a new camera).


We went out yesterday to meet my wife’s brother and his wife and we agreed to meet halfway from our homes, at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire near to the village of Ticknall. This old house is set in huge landscaped park that is worth visiting in its own right, even if looking around stately homes is not your thing. The National Trust now owns the estate and the house and it is described on their website as the “Un-Stately Home”. They have left the house in the condition it was in when they took it on in the 1980’s. It is like a time capsule of the Victorian era. They have prevented it from decaying and repaired anything that would have damaged the structure but the contents of the house and its state of slow decline have been preserved. The contents of the house  had been left unchanged by the owners since the 1880’s and every room is crammed full of collections and artefacts that the family had acquired.


Many of the National Trust properties now have excellent accommodation within the grounds usually on a self catering basis. Calke Abbey has four cottages that provide self catering in Derbyshire that are all either on the estate or close to this House. These can accommodate various party sizes from 2 to 14 people and make a great base from which to explore Calke Abbey and the surrounding countryside.


Calke Abbey also has some good facilities and we had a very pleasant meal in the restaurant that has been created in the old stables and then took a long walk around the Parkland and in particular around the lakes. The National Trust have managed the land with nature conservation at the forefront of their mind and it really shows. Many of the very old oak trees have started to decay and in some cases have died but the fallen branches and the old tree trunks have been left in situ as they are an important habitat that is usually cleared away by over-tidy estate managers. This dead oak wood is essential for the now endangered Stag Beatle that used to be so common. Young oaks have also been planted to ensure that there is a succession of oaks in the future when these very old trees come to the end of their lives. As well as a wide range of birds species, the Park is also home to a herd of Red Deer.


If you are staying in self catering in Derbyshire that is not on the estate, make this one of the places to visit during your stay. You won’t be disappointed. It is a very interesting place to explore.


All in all a great place to visit and a lot to see and do all set in a well managed park. The house isn’t the prettiest building in Britain but the contents are worth investigating. For further information and opening times visit the National Trust website on this link http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/calke-abbey


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