"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Calke Abbey ("The unstately home and country estate")

I had a day out with a friend yesterday at Calke Abbey. The house and stables have had little restoration and illustrate the story of a period in the last century when many country estates did not survive. The National Trust has carried out necessary repairs to the buildings and restored the Victorian Flower Garden but The Trust has strived to keep the interior of the house as it was found to show a country house in decline. There are also a lot of overgrown and abandoned courtyards.

Approaching the house

As we'd been on a tour of the house on a previous visit we didn't go inside again yesterday. However, its well worth a visit - each room is stuffed with cases of silverware, butterflies, children's toys, stuffed animals etc and there is a superb early 18th century State Bed with Chinese silk hangings.

The walled kitchen, physic and flower gardens were built in 1773 by Sir Harry, the 6th Baronet and are located around 400 metres from the house. The walls consist of about one third of a million bricks and it is believed they came from a clay pit and kiln in the park.

Walled Garden

The warm and sunny weather yesterday had brought out quite a few butterflies - we saw red admiral, speckled wood and comma.

I was really looking forward to seeing The Auricula Theatre (built in 1830 and the country's only surviving example) and it didn't disappoint! Plants displayed vary throughout the year and include, violas, polyanthus, auricula and at this time of the year pelargoniums.

Ferns growing in a glasshouse

Between the Flower and Kitchen Gardens there was an excellent display of dahlias.

The Kitchen Garden

A great display of pumpkins - ready for Hallowe'en!

There was an archway covered in gourds which made a very attractive display

and apples were being picked in an area of orchard.

The Orangery is probably the oldest surviving garden building and was completed in 1777.

The glass dome which is 9 metres high was added in 1836.

We walked through the Pleasure Grounds to St Giles Church which was the parish church for the village of Calke from 1160 until 1834. The present church consists of the nave of the medieval church and the interior is mainly the result of a restoration in 1827 - 1829.

The church had been decorated to celebrate Harvest Festival

This window is not stained glass but consists of painted glass.

We then returned to the courtyards

having a quick look at the deer enclosure. Calke Park is an ancient deer park and the enclosed area contains a herd of red and fallow deer but wild deer, including muntjac, can be found all round the estate.

We had a quick look round the shop but no time for cake :( although we did have a nice spiced carrot soup on arrival.

I really must make sure I don't leave it a year again before I return. The house is surrounded by Calke Park which has been designated a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its rare wood pasture, ancient trees and fungi. An area just waiting to be explored especially as I still haven't seen the "Old Man of Calke" - an ancient oak tree thought to be 1000 years old. Over 350 species of beetle have been recorded and its ranked as 10th best site in Britain for invertebrates which lived on dead and decaying wood.

Thanks J for a great day out - a shame we had to miss out on Canons Ashby yet again but hopefully we'll visit there next year!!


Marsh Lane NR

I'm still waiting for my yearly permit and key so sadly haven't been able to return - yet!!!!


I've run the moth trap several nights recently. Numbers caught are well down and the catch is dominated by Large Yellow and Lesser Yellow Underwings and Light Brown Apple Moths with a few Blair's Shoulder Knot and Common Marbled Carpet thrown in. Have been putting the moth trap out so frequently in the hope of catching Merveille du Jour (a sort of Holy Grail of the moth world at this time of the year). I've never caught one in 4 years but I live in hope!!


David and I have been to Birmingham Rep several times recently. Following their closure whilst the new Library was being built we saw the opening production "People" a play by Alan Bennett which was excellent. A few weeks ago we went to see "Dunsinane" which was very good and last night we went to see Martin Shaw starring in "Twelve Angry Men". The play was superb and one of the best productions I have ever seen there.


Wendy said...

It's lovely to see all the late summer colour in the gardens. I love the butterflies and the deer, too.
I'm glad the plays have all been so good, especially 'Twelve Angry Men'

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Many thanks. I was pleased to see so much colour in the gardens - with the warmth of the sun it still felt like summer :)

Twelve Angry Men is well worth seeing - I think its eventually moving to the West End.

Em Parkinson said...

That Auricula Theatre is wonderful - never heard of one before but what a brilliant idea.

When I think of 12 Angry Men I can't help but think of Jack Klugman's dreadful performance in the film, surrounded by much better actors! Quincy goes to court. I'd love to see a theatre performance to lay the Quincy ghost!

Lou Mary said...

I really love the first photo! So much colour! It looks like you picked the right day to go, temperatures have dropped significantly here!

David Turner said...

A lovely tour of what looks like a fantastic house and grounds :-) I think I could wander those gardens for hours and then go looking for fungi and bugs in the woods & park afterwards, though I would not make the mistake of not leaving enough time for cake as well ;-)

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson - Many thanks. I love Auriculas so must try and go back Spring? maybe when they are on display.

I haven't seen the film but the acting was excellent in play esp. Martin Shaw :) I know its going to the West End but am not sure if the play is touring rest of country first.

Lou Mary - Many thanks. Yes, I was quite pleased with that first photo - it was really warm on Tuesday. Just been for a walk now and its much colder and windier today.

David Turner - Thank you :) You could spend days there - the parkland looks superb for walking and wildlife. When you enter the estate you drive (and could walk) through the most beautiful avenue of lime trees :) Will have to return soon and next time I too will make sure I have time for cake :)

Countryside Tales said...

What a fantastic and interesting place. I always enjoy your tours and accompanying pics. Lovely! x

SeagullSuzie said...

How lovely that the butterflies were still about and some pretty flowers. I hope that you get to Marsh Lane soon.

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Many thanks :) Yes, its a really great place :)

SeagullSuzie - Many thanks :) Getting a bit impatient about permit :( I'll give it a few days and might ring them up to see if application received as its been two weeks and cheque not presented.

It was lovely to see so many plants still flowering and the butterflies :)

Toffeeapple said...

That has brightened a cold and dismal day, thank you. I love the detail that you supply in these trips out. The window is spectacular isn't it?

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Many thanks - so glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, the window was beautiful. I was pleased we had time to explore the church :)

Pete Duxon said...

lovely set of pics I do like the first pic!! really pops

Ragged Robin said...

Pete Duxon - Many thanks Pete :) Yes I was quite pleased with the first photo :) I think you've been to Calke - it really is superb there.