Monday, 4 June 2012
A Rainy Afternoon at Calke Abbey
I visited Calke Abbey in Derbyshire with a friend last Thursday afternoon. The approach to the house is along a long drive initially lined with an avenue of the most beautiful lime trees and then through parkland containing many ancient trees.
Unfortunately it rained the whole time we were there! We started off in the restaurant with egg mayonnaise rolls and fruit loaf for lunch - the National Trust certainly know how to provide delicious foods.
The house is only open for guided tours on a Thursday so we made our way down into the hollow where the house is situated down a winding path lined with wildflowers with views to the parkland in the distance.
I am not sure what species of flower this is - I thought at the time it was Lady's Bedstraw but on checking in a book when I got home the leaves are wrong for this species. If anyone has any ideas I would love to know.
Edit - Many thanks to "Abbey Meadows" for identifying this plant for me - its Common Wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris).
I am struggling with the id of this beetle too - I thought it was a Rose Chafer but it seemed about half the length of the size mentioned in id books.
Edit - Many thanks to Shy Songbird from Shy Songbird's Nature News who has identified this beetle for me - its Gastrophysa viridula. Its often found on dock leaves as in the photo.
Click Beetle - these are amazing - if one is threatened, or attacked or overturned, it will flick itself into the air making an audible clicking sound (hence the name)
View of the Parkland
Approaching the house
From the distance the house resembles something out of a Jane Austen novel but in actual fact the National Trust has deliberately not restored or renovated the house apart from essential repairs. It symbolises a country house little changed since its decline in the late nineteenth century when little was thrown away.
It portrays a time in the twentieth century when many country houses and estates did not survive.
The "End of Era" Tour took about an hour and was very interesting with audio clips from servants who had served at the house.
I didn't take many photos mainly because the light was very poor in the dark rooms with many blinds drawn and flash photography is not allowed. The highlight for me was a beautiful state bed with beautiful embroidered silk covers and curtains which had been hidden away since the eighteenth century.
The eccentric family who last lived there had a huge collection of treasures and the house is completely full of stuffed birds, animals and family portraits.
The saloon had cases full of shells and skeletons
The Breakfast Room decorated for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this weekend
The Dining Room
The Butler's Pantry
After the tour we wandered around the overgrown courtyards and looked at the many outbuildings.
I stopped to take a photo of the parkland on the way out.
There was so much we missed, due to lack of time and the weather, such as the walled garden with an auricula theatre, orangery, ice house, grotto and church, that I really must go back soon.
Even more I really want to walk around the 600 acres of parkland which is a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. It has a red and fallow deer enclosure, many ancient trees including "The Old Man of Calke" a thousand year old oak tree, ponds which contain the now rare white clawed crayfish. The park holds many species of bird and bat and the park is the 10th best site in Britain for invertebrates which live in decaying wood (there are at least 350 species of beetle found there!).
Despite the rain it was lovely day out in great company - thanks J.
Blue Tit Update
The two young fledged some time early in this morning. When the camera was switched on at 7.30 a.m. they had already left. I hope all goes well for them in the next few hazardous weeks.