A few weekends ago I went to visit Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. Surrounded by a large and impressive park Calke Abbey is a stately home that the National Trust is leaving largely in the decaying state it was in when it first became a Trust property. So as well as magnificent rooms that echo the grandeur that once was, there are the rooms abandoned by the owners when the upkeep of the house just became too expensive.
Founded in the early 12th century, Calke Abbey was established by the 2nd Earl of Chester and was never actually an abbey, though it does sit on the site of an Augustinian priory. There’s nothing left of the original building, however, as it was completely remodelled during the eighteenth century.
Rooms in a state of decay are juxtaposed with rooms chock-full of curiosities and collectables, like the dining-room
and the saloon, which was turned into a private museum in the nineteenth century, display such items as the crocodiles skull below, thought to have been brought back from Egypt in 1870.
Rooms that are shown in their state of decay include the school room, where the below doll’s house can be found
this room, where photos of past inhabitants are projected on to a canvas along one wall…
The wine cellars and tunnels under the house are also a highlight
and the park itself, which would make a more than adequate visit on all its own.