Calke Abbey in Derbyshire is a National Trust property with a difference. When the National Trust was given Calke Abbey, it was in a state of disrepair – and they decided to keep it that way.
‘Repair not restore’ is the Calke Abbey philosophy, and you will see tumbled down walls and peeling paint everywhere you look. The house itself is still intact, but the upper levels in particular tell the sad story of a lifestyle in decline.
The walled gardens were like something straight out of The Secret Garden, with lots of doorways and hidden corners to spark your imagination. You can visit the orangery and the kitchen garden too.
Great Expectations is one of my favourite novels, and visiting Calke Abbey was a bit like wandering into Satis House. I could almost see Miss Haversham, surrounded by her decaying wedding breakfast, in one of the rooms.
On the day we visited there was also a vintage fair and it was lambing time, so there was plenty to see and do. The courtyard BBQ meant we avoided queues for the restaurant and instead tucked in to some delicious sausage sandwiches.
This was one of my favourite days out in ages and I would really recommend a visit if you’re nearby. It was the kind of place which fills your head with stories – I almost feel as though I could write a novel!
Do you like the idea of an un-stately home?