Uncover hidden stories at Calke Abbey

Visitors peering through a door in the stableyard at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

There are plenty of stories waiting to be told at Calke Abbey – the country house in decline. This year, we're revealing more of Calke's hidden stories, collections and spaces as part of our Hidden Revealed project. Layers upon layers await discovery with something new to explore and uncover on every visit.

The ‘forbidden’ estate

In the 1980s Calke was transformed from a ‘forbidden’ estate that few people entered to a place saved for the nation. Three decades later, there are still areas that are rarely seen and plenty of stories waiting to be told.

A framed view of the School Room at Calke Abbey
The School Room at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Go behind closed doors

When the house opens in March, we’ll be opening the doors to the family apartments to visitors for the first time. Marvel at the luxury of the oak-panelled dining room and discover homely comforts in the family living areas.

We’ll be exploring what stories to tell in these rooms. Can we make it into an exhibition space? Could we tell the story of the last family members to live here? We’re inviting you in to help us decide.

A collection of family photographs at Calke Abbey
A collection of photographs at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Explore the rest of the house and visit the exploration tent on the ground floor to unearth stories of Sir John Gardner Wilkinson, a traveller and Egyptologist whose extensive library is held at Calke Abbey.

Head upstairs to find our ‘object of the month’ – each month we’ll be picking out an unusual item from the collection and putting it under the spotlight. Our research team have been busy uncovering stories about each item from the archives to share with you.

Opening more spaces for you to explore

Using the money raised from our 2016 raffle, we’ll be excavating a new tunnel in the gardens in May. This tunnel was once used to access part of the heating system for the gardens.

Watch the excavation take place this spring, then take a guided tour down into the tunnel when it’s been fully opened.

Explore the series of tunnels around Calke Abbey
Visitors walking through the tunnels at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire

Walk on the wild side

With 600 acres of parkland at Calke, there’s plenty of forgotten views and hidden wildlife to find. Join us as we explore parts of the wider estate that often go unnoticed, from tree identification walks to wildlife spotting rambles.

If you prefer to walk at your own pace, pick up a park map and look out for hidden wildlife sculptures and framed views around the estate. 

Watch our new video

Pop into the Riding School for a screening of our new introductory film to learn more about Calke and our Hidden Revealed theme (popcorn included). Then let a character from Calke’s past take you on a tour of the Stableyard to reveal the hidden stories about this interesting range of buildings.

Screening will take place from Sat 11 to Sun 19 Feb at 11am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm. The film will then be screened in the Fowl House, next to the restaurant.

Peer through open doors in the stableyards at Calke Abbey
Visitors peering through open doors in the stableyards at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire