Calke Abbey is not your average stately home, it’s more like a long-lost cabinet of wonders crammed with furniture, stuffed birds, mounted animal heads, books, tools and bric-à-brac wherever you turn. Calke Abbey, managed by the National Trust, tells the story of the decline of so many country houses during the 20th century. Having retained its peeling paintwork, slightly chaotic flair and overgrown courtyards it has only been restored to make it safe for visitors and stop further decline. And that’s its charm. Instead of a tidied glamorous country house, you enter the world of an eccentric and reclusive family who lived there for nearly 300 years and liked to collect things.
From the stables you proceed to the main house.
There are some glamorous rooms in this building and especially the state bed is magnificent as its colours are still vibrant due to the fact that it was stored away till the 1980s. But I don’t think I have ever seen so many stuffed animals outside a museum.
My favourite parts where those that looked more neglected with the paint peeling off and the rooms just used for storage.
There’s also a long eerie tunnel leading to the private brewery on the estate and a church where family members have been buried. I particularly liked the walled garden as, even though it was maintained, it is not too neatly kept. And the orangery is a little treasure as well.
There is much more to see as the estate is quite substantial and there is even an impressive ice house and a grotto, but I was intrigued by the the story of decline.