Photo: Phil Sangwell

Calke Abbey is full of history, surprises, and misconceptions. The estate was an Augustinian priory from the 12th century, but was dissolved by Henry VIII’s campaign to start the Church of England. The present building, now named Calke Abbey, was not in fact an abbey, but a Baroque mansion built in 1704.

This “un-stately home” has taken the unusual route to preserve, rather than restore the house. A refreshing way to see history, the estate was deliberately left as it was abandoned, giving a unique view of life inside the house. Watch the National Trust video before you enter the house to gain insight into how the property has been preserved.

As you explore the house, learn about the eccentric family that lived at Calke. You can see the many Calke curiosities, which range from a crocodile skull to hidden spaces. Because Calke Abbey has been left exactly as it was, there is a vast collection of hidden treasures. You can see characters from the various generations of the house’s history, as well as exploring the secret tunnels that run under the house! When you exit the tunnel into the garden, get ready to explore. You can get toastie in the hothouse and marvel at the exotic plants, or see the classic English walled garden. The parkland is home to many varieties of wildlife, from majestic deer to flitting butterflies. As you explore the network of footpaths, see if you can pick out one of the oak trees that is more than 1,000 years old!


Ticknall, Derby, DE73 7LE
Tel: 01332 863822
Times: See attraction for specific details.