The faded charm of a grand country-house estate
ost trips to country estates are about immersing yourself in the grandiosity of the past but not at Calke Abbey.
At this Peak District mansion it’s all about experiencing the weird and wonderful world of the Abbey’s former residents, warts and all.
The paint may be peeling at Calke Abbey, but without the restoration gloss, you get a real sense of the reclusive Harpur family who lived there from the 17th century until the 1980s. Over that period, they hoarded a vast collection of unusual treasures from around the globe.
Check out the Saloon which is the Harpur’s own private museum with displays of stuffed animals, fossils and Egyptian artefacts – not the most welcoming array of ornaments, that’s for sure. Be sure to take some time to snoop around Lord Vauncey's bedroom, which remains unchanged since the mid-19th century. You won’t see posters of popstars, hunting trophies were the wall adornment of choice for this teenager.
Explore the original kitchen, abandoned in 1928 despite having ‘Waste Not Want Not’ painted on the large fireplace, before heading down into the Brewhouse tunnel, a spooky passageway that snakes from the cellars.
After the eeriness of the house, head out into the fragile beauty of the walled gardens and the surrounding National Nature Reserve for a breath of fresh air – you never know, such rarefied English eccentricity might be catching.
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