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.
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.