As part of being a My Vouchers Codes, National Trust Ambassador, we visited a completely different National Trust property, unlike anything I imagine most people would expect from a NT property, this weekend. The beautiful Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. It’s honestly full of surprises and touches that left us smiling, entertained and enthralled all day. I wanted to share with you why this is one of our favourite National Trust Properties, and why I recommend you visit.
Calke Abbey is known as the ‘Unstately Home’ and its easy to see why when you visit the main house, stable and surrounding buildings. With peeling paint, a sprinkling of dust, lots of clutter and rooms that look and feel as if they have been abandoned in a time capsule sort of way. Don’t be fooled though into thinking that this is what the rest of the property is like. Calke Abbey has beautifully tendered gardens, a modern restaurant and cafe, playground and brilliant (and squeaky clean) toilet facilities. We had lunch in the cafe, and it was both reasonably priced and delicious. They had kids boxes (always a good idea) and soup, sandwiches and a delicious cream teas that I’m still thinking about now!
Every room you visit has hidden treasure and collections. Some with peeling wallpaper, others looking more tiredly majestic in appearance and feel.
When the house was handed to the National Trust in 1985, many of its rooms had been abandoned for decades and were in a state of decline. The National Trust have decided not to restore these rooms, but rather preserve them as they were found. It almost feels like you alone are discovering them for the first time. This house is full of treasure especially natural history, from birds to shells, butterflies and larger items like crocodile skulls.
Calke Abbey – front view
Calke Abbey, really is the house where time stood still.
Rather than restoring Calke to its former glory, The National Trust have completed necessary repairs to halt the decay of the house and its collections, but nothing more. As you wander through the mansion, you’ll discover abandoned rooms, an amazing collection of strange and unique objects, exactly as they found them.
This has got to be the coolest shower I’ve ever seen
Ana Mum Top Tip
When you visit any of the NT properties, always check the website to see opening times and prices, also to see if there are any events happening.
At Calke Abbey you can buy tickets for the house and for the gardens, or separate ones. Alternatively apply for National Trust membership, we’ve been members for 4 years and never regretted it. Also note that even if you are a member, in order to visit the House you need to get a timed ticket. Main house opens at 12.30pm (admission by timed ticket).
The house was completed in 1704 for the Hurper Crewe’s, the house being used through the generations by a long line of fanatical collectors and reclusive characters, which may partly explain the way it was found in the 1980’s. We especially loved looking at the areas that had some of Sir John Gardener Wilkinsons Eyptology collection in. Miss A (8) is doing this subject at school, so loved explaining to us the process of mummification and hieroglyphics. I would allow at least an hour or two to wander around the house.
We then left the house to enjoy lunch at the Cafe, one of two places to eat at Calke, with both inside and outside seating. It was both reasonably priced and delicious. They had kids boxes (always a good idea) soup, sausage sandwiches and a delicious cream teas that I’m still thinking about now! The even had a welsh rarebit scone, which I didn’t try but looked very tasty.
Calke Abbey is also a great place to let off steam, whatever your age.
With places to run, roll down hills and play football for the children. There are well sign posted walks for everyone. In the stable area, there are rooms full of dress up, and items perfect for story telling and make-believe, even craft materials.
There are also a collection of traditional children’s outside toys like skipping ropes and hoops and sticks. As well as a park.
There’s just something I love about coloured peeling paint…
Me checking out the hidden treasure in the stable yard
There is even a scratch and reveal map for you discover hidden gems from around the estate.
We even got to spot some deer whilst walking around the grounds.
The auricula theatre is the last surviving one of its kind and it was displaying an extremely impressive display of pelargoniums when we visited.
Some of the produce and plants were on sale in the garden area.
I couldn’t resist buying some of the strawberry plants a bargain at 50p. I love the ideas that we will be picking Calke Abbey strawberries come next summer in my own garden.
Overall there is just so much to do and see, it’s a place you definitely would visit multiple times. Coming up they have a pumpkin and apple picking events planned, which I would love to do with Miss A.
If you’d like to visit Calke Abbey then here are the Sat-Nav details – postcode DE73 7LE
Other National Trust places we have visited