Calke Abbey

Picture is copyright Phil Sangwell and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

Name: Calke Abbey
Address: Ticknall, Derby, Derbyshire, DE73 7LE
Telephone: 01332 863822

Center map

Calke Abbey is a Grade I listed mansion in Derbyshire which was built in 1701-4 and was home to a succession of members of the Harpur family until it was acquired by the National Trust in 1985. It is an extremely unusual property in that the building and the surroundings are magnificent, but many aspects of the estate have been allowed decline over the years much in part due to the eccentricity of the Harpur family owners. This has led to the unflattering description of Calke Abbey as being an “unstately home”.

There are no public roads close to Calke Abbey which gives the property an isolated and peaceful atmosphere enhanced by the beautiful 18th century park composed of thousands of trees and numerous ornamental lakes which are part of the Calke Abbey estate.

Although named Calke Abbey, the property was never used as an actual Abbey. The site was originally home to an Augustinian priory in the 12th century until its dissolution by Henry VIII. What stands at Calke Abbey now is a three storey baroque house with fluted pilasters and a balustraded roofline.

The Harpur family owned the estate for some 300 years and during that time they were known for their extreme eccentricity. This meant that the house was often cluttered with a range of treasures collected over the years and at times the property fell into disrepair. Sir Vauncey Harpur Crewe inherited Calke in 1886 and added to the eccentric mystique that surrounded the house since it was built. He was keenly interested in natural history and adorned the property with collected stuffed animals which remain today. Interesting eccentricities exhibited by Sir Vauncey were his penchant to communicate with his servants by letter, his wish to keep hedges high and untended to allow the bird’s maximum cover and his unusual tendency to flee into the woods whenever his wife entertained friends.

Calke Abbey passed into the hands of the National Trust in 1985 after the death of Henry Jenney Harper-Crewe and in some ways the estate can be considered as a country house in decline. The National Trust took the decision to carry out remedial work on the property, but no large scale restoration has taken place and the interiors are in much the same order as they have been for decades if not hundreds of years which lends the house a real sense of authenticity.

The extensive surrounding landscape contains a church and a walled garden with a flower and kitchen garden.

What’s There?

  • An authentically preserved English country house.
  • Extensive gardens and parkland walks.
  • See the orangery.
  • Eat at the restaurant.
  • Food can be bought from the Calke Pantry.
  • Hot drinks can be bought from the coffee shop kiosk.
  • Baby change facilities.
  • Children’s quiz and trail.


Admittance to the house and gardens is £8.00 per adult, £4.09 per child and £20.09 for a family ticket.

All National Trust members can enter free of charge.

See more about National Trust memberships.