Sunday, July 24, 2005

weekend, continued

Later in the afternoon we visited Calke Abbey ( ), a unique country house in Derbyshire donated to the National Trust in the 1980's. The house has remained virtually unchanged since the late nineteenth century, when the family that had owned it since the late seventeenth century began to run out of funds. The house is built on top of the ruins of an Augustinian priory (13th century, I think). The priory lands were confiscated in the 16th century by Henry VIII as part of the abolition of monasteries. The National Trust has taken a rather different approach to Calke Abbey than with other country houses. They decided to stop the process of decay and repair the property where it was dangerous, but have otherwise left it as much as possible in the state in which they recieved it. They property has a rather romantic sense of decline about it. The family that owned the house were absolute packrats- they never threw out anything! When the National Trust workers were exploring the clutter, they came across a gorgeous state bed from the early eighteenth century given as a wedding gift from the queen, still packed in crates. One of the baronets was a naturalist and kept a rather disconcerting managerie of taxidermied animals from all over the world. All of them are still on display for our viewing enjoyment. The garden near the house was the type of thing my Mom would have given her right arm to see.The smells and colors of all the blossoms were amazing! In a field in the back near the icehouse, I saw a herd of reindeer-like creatures on a hill overlooking a lake. And if that wasn't cool enough, we got to chase a flock of sheep. Calke Abbey was definitely the high point of the weekend.

We spent the night at dorms in Nottingham University. Some blokes went out to "Ye Olde Jerusalem" pub, claiming to be the oldest continuously running pub in England. (I stayed in bed).


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