Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Calke Abbey

We took a trip to beautiful Calke Abbey on Sunday. The estate is huge - when you arrive, you drive into the Park (which has it's own entrance fee) and then into the Stables area. In the Stables area are a children's play area, shop, restaurant, and the visitor reception, from where you go through another gate to get to the house and gardens. We have been to Calke twice before, although didn't make it past the Stables either time!

This time we got through and it was great. The information leaflet describes it like this -

"Calke Abbey is a Baroque house built on the site of a former priory and completed in 1704 for Sir John Harpur. The family name changed to Crewe and then to Harpur Crewe and the family wealth was accumulated through clever marriage and the proceeds of land ownership. Throughout the generations the family displayed a range of eccentric characteristics from being strangely reclusive to fanatical collectors. The National Trust has decided to show Calke as a graphic example of 'the decline of the great country house' that occurred during the early to mid 20th century."

This is a pic of Sir Vauncey Harpur Crewe's room - apparently the family living here before the National Trust took over hadn't been able to throw anything away!

I really enjoyed visiting the house - it seems strange but I got more of a feel for the house and what it must have been like to live there with it all decaying and in decline, than if all the rooms had been show-rooms. There were some gorgeous features (I particularly liked the fancy drain pipes!) and the family were indeed fanatical collectors - glass case upon glass case of shells filled many of the rooms (like the bedroom above - all those cases on the left) The kitchen was also fab, getting a really good look at the old oven and range and the equipment. We couldn't take the pushchair in so Leo was walking, which meant that we saw a few of the rooms at a brisk trot rather than having a good wander, but it was still fun. There was an I-Spy sheet for Zachary to fill in and he loved that.

The gardens were beyond the house and although we didn't get a long look there, we could see how busy they still are, full of vegetables and flowers.

We also had a bit of fun managing Zachary's toilet requirements...2 al fresco wees! At least the people who saw him seemed to find it funny rather than slightly offensive! But a great day out.

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