Quite close to us is the National Trust property of Calke Abbey, a place we visit several times a year. The pictures in this short series were taken during the course of one visit in July on a day when the house itself was closed to visitors.
Calke Abbey was acquired by the National Trust in 1985 as a most unusual property where it seemed that time had stood still. The Harpur family had lived there since 1622 and were noted for their reclusive eccentricity. In 1985 the property was in need of extensive repair but was lacking in modern amenities and cluttered with the collected family paraphernalia of centuries . The decision was made to carry out essential repairs only and keep the property, so far as possible, in the state that it was left . You will not find, therefore, a highly restored interior but a most interesting and informal picture of a grand country house in its latter years of occupancy and decline. It has a unique fascination.
A memorable example of the idiosyncratic nature of the family is the star exhibit of a stunning state bed given to the family in 1714 and never erected! Complete with Chinese embroidered silk hangings the bed can now be seen in an air conditioned display and is 'as new' and meticulously preserved.
The main south front of the hall seen here was built for Sir John Harpur in the early years of the 18th Century by an unknown architect who drew inspiration from a number of sources including, in all probability, the work of a 16th Century French Architect, Philibert de L'Orme.
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