Exploring Calke Abbey - Derbyshire National Trust Property

Calke Abbey is somewhere I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time and finally this Summer - I made it happen! If you know me at all, you’ll know about my love for disused, abandoned buildings. I’ve always been fascinated by seeing nature taking it back the land that was previously hers.

Calke Abbey is really rather special and very different to all of the other National Trust properties, they call it the 'un-stately' home. Instead of restoring Calke to its former glory, the National Trust did the necessary repairs to halt the decay of the house but left its interiors as they found it. 


The house is an absolute gem, wandering through the abandoned rooms is a feast for the eyes. Left how it was found by the Trust, complete with peeling paper and huge collections of strange and unique objects. Some rooms with furniture piled up on top of one another, other rooms looked like someone had just been in there and were coming back to finish their tea, 30 years later. Around the abandoned home and stables are the friendliest volunteers, full of passion for this beautiful old building. I was so captivated by the inside of the building I completely forgot to take a photograph of the outside. (doh)

I could have spent hours longer in the house and would love to have gone straight back round to take it all in again. But after marvelling at the house we headed to the incredible gardens, bursting with colour from the wild flowers. If there’s anything I love just as much as an abandoned building, it's a kitchen garden with old glass green houses. I was in heaven!

Calke Abbey is pretty easy to get to and well signed from the A50. As you drive to the entrance your met by two members of staff, who ask for a parking fee of £4 per person. This seemed slightly odd to us to charge for each person rather than per car, but hey ho! If you’re heading down to the main house and gardens, there’s a short mile drive ahead of you through the grounds.

After parking up, we headed to the entrance and were met by a team of National Trust volunteers and employees - who were super helpful. The entrance fee to the house is £15 each, but it's run by a timed ticket, so make sure to pop into the ticket office as soon as you arrive to get a spot on the nearest time slot. We had an hour to wait so grabbed some lovely burgers, from the outdoor summer BBQ they were running in the courtyard.

I completely underestimated how much there was to see and do, we spent a good 4 hours here and to be honest I could have easily spent a lot longer. We didn’t make it to the church, the grotto or even the rest of the park! I heard one visitor say ‘another room of junk’ which broke my heart but, like one of the volunteers said, Calke Abbey is like Marmite - you either love it, or you hate it. I bloody loved it.