Calke Abbey and Estate Parkland, Derbyshire
Saturday started bright and sunny and far better than predicted…can this be true ‘spring has arrived’. Well I suspect all will change over the next few days. So best not to waste this great patch of weather we headed off to one of our favourite places to stretch our legs. Calke Abbey is a very old estate house (now in the care of the National Trust) and whilst the house is well worth a visit it is the woodlands that we find of great and more lasting interest.
The woods are very different in character to the woodlands we normally visit. True there are areas on the estate that are densely wooded but the greater part is much more open. Ancient Oaks and sedate Chestnuts and Beech doted across the park…an area once grazed by Deer and cattle…..Parkland fit for the owners of the estate to ride.
There are some Oak on the estate well over 1000 years old but most are just very venerable Oaks….some just hollowed out trunks, yet still able to withstand the high winds. Inevitably there is always some wind damage and maybe it is the fallen and decaying timbers that give the parkland a special magic feel…
In one corner of the Parkland you can also explore the Deer Shelter. Not built with the Deer’s wellbeing in mind….but as a means of establishing a place where the wild deer could reliably find feed, so gathering groups of Deer in one place….the purpose being to allow the Deer to be viewed from the house. In need of some care and attention these old buildings still retain lots of character and have a quality of build to match the main house..
There is of course much more to Calke than just a noble house surrounded by parkland and woods. In its hay days it was a fully self contained community supporting several farms, vegetable and ornamental gardens, stables, blacksmiths workshops, brew house, bakery and all other services necessary to support the house, its owners and employees.
One thing is always guaranteed and that is architects for these important houses could always manage to construct them in just the right location to show them at there very best…..and Calke Abbey is no exception.
By the time this blog is posted the weather may well have changed….so I hope you have enjoyed a February day of warm sunshine (12c) with us in Derbyshire.
(C) David Oakes 2017