Poised somewhere between gentle neglect and downright dereliction, Calke Abbey is unlike other great country estates. Entering along the Lime Tree Avenue offers views of the historic parkland, home to ancient oaks, secluded ponds and miles of woodland walks. The National Nature Reserve awaits discovery, while Calke Explore – a new outdoor recreation area nestled among the woodland – provides the perfect base to begin exploring the wider estate, with a natural play area, refreshment kiosk and access to walking and cycling routes.
Peeling paintwork and abandoned rooms tell the story of a country house in decline, while a vast collection reveals the varied interests of a loving family who never threw anything away. The walled garden offers moments of reflection, including a domed orangery and faded glasshouses, and beds bursting with seasonal produce and colour echo the history of Calke’s working garden.
This year, to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of Sir Henry Harpur, dubbed the ‘Isolated Baronet’, Calke Abbey is delving deeper into its own stories of isolation and loneliness, kindness and compassion. HumanKind is a new exhibition in the family apartments, exploring moments in the lives of six members of Calke’s household. Outdoors, visitors can explore Calke’s ‘landscape rooms’ or take part in HumanKind-themed events.
Highlights throughout the year include the underground tunnels, a rare surviving auricula theatre in the flower garden, and an array of wildlife roaming the parkland – from a herd of red and fallow deer to a rare-breed Portland sheep flock. A great place to walk your dog, Calke has plenty of way-marked walks that are suitable year-round – a great way to escape the crowds. The circular Tramway Trail is an accessible route for walkers and cyclists, taking you on a scenic journey through the wider parkland. For families, don’t miss Squirt’s Stable, Calke’s family activity area, open at weekend and school holidays from February to October.
With plenty of refreshment outlets, a gift shop and second-hand bookshop, there’s lots of places to refresh, refuel and relax. For full opening arrangements and prices, visit the Calke Abbey website.
Admission for National Trust members is free. All other visitors pay a per-person admission charge which allows access to the park and gardens. Additional tickets for the house can be purchased from the ticket office. Please see website for admission prices.
- Other Awards Self-assessed Accessibility Information 2020
- Assistance dogs welcome
- Changing Places
- Disabled access - Buggy service between car park and house/garden, wheelchair access to parts of the house, wheelchairs and tramper available to borrow (limited)
- Disabled toilets
- Facilities for hearing impaired
- Mobility Scooter Hire
- Staff are dementia aware
- Wheelchairs available
Booking & Payment Details
- Credit cards accepted (no fee)
- On-site catering
- On-site light refreshments
- Picnic site
- Baby changing facilities - Front-carrying baby slings and hip-carrying infant seats to borrow,
- Children welcome - Children’s quiz/trail, children’s play area
- Facilities for educational visits
- Facilities for groups
- Guided tours for groups
Meeting, Conference & Wedding Facilities
- Facilities for corporate hospitality
- Venue approved for civil marriage - All weddings are managed by Ivy House Weddings
- Wedding receptions - All weddings are managed by Ivy House Weddings
- Free Parking - Admission charges apply
- Dogs Accepted
- Gift shop
- Onsite Catering
- Public toilets
- Smoking not allowed
- WiFi or internet access
- National Trust Property
- Accepts groups
- Coach parties accepted
* Please see website
TripAdvisor Traveller Rating:
- Travelers Choice 2022
- Very Good766
- Elizabeth RWorth it just for the groundsTuesday, 2nd August 2022Oh, it's worth coming to Calke for the grounds alone! We've been twice now. First time we did check out the house and had a tour, which was OK, we were pretty much left to it after the first few... Read full review
- L0mbard0Liverpool, United KingdomTrip Type:CouplesWell presented garden and grounds but poor signage.Sunday, 7th August 2022Enjoyed a walk around the grounds and gardens. Particularly enjoyed the walled gardens. The signage to different areas of the grounds could be better. Disappointing menu for the restaurant - we ended... Read full review
- Teacake_TasterChesterfield, United KingdomTrip Type:CouplesGreat day exploringWednesday, 10th August 2022The usual long drive up to the house itself but easy to get to on Sat Nav. There’s two places to eat, one that doesn’t have a kitchen and the other one does. Better than usual choice of NT food. Wasp... Read full review
Map & Directions
South of Derby, on A514 at Ticknall between Swadlincote and Melbourne. Access from M42/A42 exit 13 and A50 Derby SouthAccessible by Public Transport: Derby station is 10 miles away.