If you are visiting the Peak District, you will be spoilt for choice with the number of attractions nestled in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside just waiting for you to discover. That’s why here at The Staff of Life, we suggest you join us for your short stay or longer break in our comfortable country inn and B&B in the stunning village of Ticknall.

Situated in the heart of a picturesque village, famous for its rich history and connection with Calke and the lime works, The Staff of Life, Ticknall offers the perfect base for easy access to a number of interesting attractions, and top of your list should be a visit to the intriguing and stunning Calke Abbey.

You’ll find this imposing Grade I Listed National Trust Property situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty, and it’s no wonder Calke Abbey attracts visitors from far and wide, because it’s a stately home like you’ve never visited before. 

Calke Abbey has drama – and it holds fascinating secrets! 

Despite its name, Calke Abbey was never an actual abbey. It was first a Priory for Augustine Monks from the 12th century until around 1536 when Henry VIII closed down the monasteries, and was then, in the 17th century, purchased by the Harpur family for just £5,350.

Often described as an ‘un-stately’ home, Calke Abbey does not boast the luxury, gilded interiors you would expect to find inside this imposing baroque mansion. Instead, visitors find ancient peeling paintwork, wallpaper hanging forlornly from the walls, junk piled high in rooms and once perfect courtyards overgrown. In fact, many rooms can be found untouched and in the very state of decay in which they were discovered in the mid 1980’s when the National Trust acquired the property in lieu of death duties. Since then some basic remedial works have been undertaken, but purposefully, no restoration works. 

Calke Abbey’s drama comes mostly from its unique sense of abandonment and the layers of history this vast country house estate holds, including underground tunnels, tales of isolation and forgotten spaces.

A step back in time like no other 

Imagine a huge time capsule which when opened, oozes fascinating unexpected secret after secret! Calke Abbey tells the story of the substantially well off Harpur family who could have lived a life of privilege in their luxurious surroundings, but who in fact were a reclusive family of hoarders.

The Harpur family just did not like throwing things away and they enjoyed collecting things, so as you can imagine, this combination created a home rammed full of everything, including the kitchen sink – and there’s several of those! Art, ceramics, furniture, crockery, much of which is still in-situ today.

Despite the house containing some of its original crockery, an example of which you can see abandoned in the servants hall, here at The Staff of Life, we happily lend plates to Calke Abbey when they are holding their many events throughout the year – and as you can imagine ours are not covered in quite so much dust! 

What is truly amazing though is that Calke Abbey offers visitors a real insight into the rather eccentric and reclusive family that resided at the property for more than 300 years. Visitors are encouraged to become involved in the Calke Unlocked Tours and unearth new and exciting artefacts and secrets as they tour the property. It’s an amazing opportunity to be part of the Calke history, first-hand.

Begin your adventure at The Staff of Life

Forget stuffy museum tours, Calke Abbey is an adventure into a very well-preserved past. For example, Sir Vauncey Harpur-Crewe, born in 1846, was a notable member of the family who was obsessed with taxidermy and filled the house with an estimated 20,000 of these items alone. 

Sir Vauncey’s bedroom remains exactly as it was found by the National Trust in the 1980’s and trust us, it looks quite different to the comfortable, cosy, en-suite bedrooms we offer just next door at The Staff of Life.

Particularly suitable for families and children, activities at Calke Abbey are held throughout the year, including seasonal events such as lambing in spring and the chance to visit Father Christmas in his stable grotto plus, there are other crafts and theatre activities and events. 

Calke Abbey is also a beautiful place for dog walking, with year-round way-marked walks and a circular route called the Tramway Trail which is perfect for walkers to enjoy the scenic parkland, before calling into see our friendly faces here at The Staff of Life, to enjoy some traditional home cooked food, a thirst quenching pint of cask ale or a delicious glass of wine – and of course a well-earned water bowl for your dog!

If you are a dog-owner and would like to stay with us, giving you more time to discover Calke Abbey and its parkland, we have a ground floor bedroom with a private entrance available for guests with a dog.

Calke Abbey is not your typical tourist destination – and that’s what makes it all the more of a must visit attraction. Every visitor that steps over the threshold of this fascinating home, breathes new life into the house, and what a great way to be part of its wider history. 

Stay with us at The Staff of Life and breathe in the history of Calke Abbey from the moment you wake up. Our comfortable, Grade II Listed Country Inn and B&B backs on to the open parkland of Calke Abbey, so it’s just a short walk or drive away. Our rooms are all en-suite and can be accessed privately so you’ll be perfectly situated for your visit. 

For the best available price, book with us direct or call us on 01332 862479. We look forward to welcoming you soon.