When acquiring Calke Abbey the National Trust decided to make the building structurally sound but leave the house and its contents exactly as they found them:
The National Trust has made essential repairs to the fabric of the building and restored the Flower Garden to its gaudy Victorian glory, but, inside, it endeavours to present the place as it was found, preserving Calke Abbey’s potent, but fragile, atmosphere of quiet decay. So a matchbox still props up the broken leg of the china pug dog in the Entrance Hall.
Today, Britain’s country houses are generally in better heart than they have been since the mid-19th century. Calke Abbey reminds us of a bleaker time not so very long ago.*
This approach to the conservation leads to a fascinating incite of the history of the building and its owners.
*From the Calke Abbey guide book.
At the weekend I read the latest regional edition of the National Trust magazine ‘Near You’. One of the articles advised that this year sees the fifth anniversary of the walled garden project. I have enjoyed seeing that garden at different stages as it progressed. This is what the article has to say about the project:
Since 2006 a dedicated team of staff and volunteers have been restoring the walled garden, frame yard and orchard at Attingham Park into an excellent example of a late 18th century kitchen garden estate.
This year sees the fifth anniversary of this project with three-quarters of the garden in full production. there’s nearly 160 apple trees and clusters of damson and walnut trees thriving in the orchard, and work beginning on reinstating the herbaceous garden. The sheer size of the walled kitchen garden at Attingham Park serves as a reminder of the scale of operations when the estate was in its prime, prior to ceasing cultivation in the 1960s. Walled Gardner, Kate Nicoll, said:
“I’m really pleased with how far we have come in five years – the fruit trees have been returned to the walls and the ironwork has been reinstated. “We now supply the tea-room and shop with fruit, vegetables and flowers throughout the year, and in 2012 we achieved organic status. It’s wonderful to see the garden coming back to life.”
I am not ambitious to appear a man of letters: I could be content the world should think I had scarce looked upon any other book than that of nature.
Robert Boyle (1627 – 1691)
Last weekend I had yet another mini break in Nottingham. On this occasion it was to celebrate my brother becoming a certain age. Hopefully he won’t be looking in on this post so I won’t get into trouble
This one was and even more of a last minute arrangement than the previous mini break there. We arrived at the hotel late on Saturday afternoon with plenty of time to get ready to go out for the celebratory meal in a local Chinese Restaurant. The food was delicious and so was the cake, although I only had half a very thin sliver of that.
On Sunday morning we called to visit my brother before setting of to visit Calke Abbey and have lunch before heading home. In the morning the sunshine was glorious, but unfortunately it had turned to rain as we arrived at Calke Abbey. This meant that the visit to the walled garden had to be called off. Oh well, an excuse to visit again…