The history of Calke Abbey
Hidden away in a hollow within ancient park land, Calke Abbey appears to have turned its back on the modern world. The telephone first rang in 1928 at Calke and electricity wasn't introduced until 1962. The often eccentric Harpur-Crewe family preferred a solitary life which excluded mod cons.
After passing through several hands Richard Wendsley acquired Calke, eventually selling the estate in 1585 to Robert Bainbridge. His son sold the estate to Henry Harpur in 1622 for £5,350. It stayed in the Harpur family until the National Trust began caring for it in 1985.
An isolated heir
He was destined for high society after being born into aristocracy. Instead he withdrew from society, a characteristic which continued in the family for the next 200 years. This solitary nature has shaped the house we see today.
The family man
Sir George devoted himself to fulfilling his duty as a Christian landlord, family man and country gentleman. He was a great collector of art and many of the paintings hanging in the house today were bought by him.
A gentle tyrant
His passion was for collecting stuffed animals and when he died in 1924 there were several hundred specimens in the house. Discover how his passions shaped the house interior you see today.
An oral history
Find out more about what Second World War evacuees thought of their time at Calke in the video below: