The owners of Calke Abbey in Derbyshire (visited with A. and I. yesterday) were hoarders. The male members of the Harpur Crewe family, who moved into the country house in 1622 and stayed for nearly 350 years before donating it to the National Trust, were avid collectors who obviously loathed throwing anything away. The National Trust decided to preserve the property and the collection of curiosites it houses in its original state, thus allowing fascinating insights into both life in the Victorian period and a collector’s mindset.
It might have been the rain and cold intensifying the sombre atmosphere of an era, a house and a family in decline, but if you’ve got a penchant for places soaked with melancholy and nostalgia, you should definitely visit.
Royal Worcester figure of a pug dog in the Entrance Hall, its broken leg propped up with a matchbox.
Bird display in the Drawing Room.
Sir Vauncey Harpur Crewe’s Bedroom, left in the state in which it was found by the National Trust in 1985, complete with hunting trophies and collections of shells and fossils.
The Saloon served as a private museum of souvenirs and natural curiosities such as a crocodile’s skull (brought back from Egypt in 1870) and display cases crammed with stones, fossils, sea shells and stuffed animals.
Ostrich egg, silver-mounted and decorated with boar’s tusks, given to Richard Fynderne Harpur Crewe by his Great Uncle Richard as a christening present in 1880 – instead of the traditional silver spoon or teething ring.