Discover treasures of the past at Calke Abbey

A unique window to the past at Calke Abbey.

A close up look at the detail of the State Bed at Calke Abbey.

Calke Abbey is running a series of one-off displays in celebration of its magnificent State Bed being chosen to feature in the book 125 Treasures from the Collections of the National Trust.


'Discover Calke's Treasures' will be available to see until February 27.


Visitors can expect to discover what it takes to care for the items in Calke’s huge, eclectic collection and explore ideas around what makes something precious.


A mock-up of the 18th Century State Bed, ready to be decorated by visitors to the exhibition. ©National Trust Images/Julie Griffith

Julie Griffith, Property Curator, said: “At Calke, we have some valuable and even striking objects, but sitting right next to these are the personal possessions of the people that lived at Calke, such as family members and servants.


"It gives us a real way of looking at what people treasure. It doesn’t have to be something that would sell for a lot of money, but something that was personal and meaningful to the individual.


"We’ve tried to encapsulate this in the exhibition so that visitors can get a feel for Calke’s treasures and share how they view treasure themselves.”


The focus of the event is a full-scale mock-up of Calke’s crowning jewel, the State Bed, which was chosen from the National Trust’s million-strong collection to feature in the 125 Treasures book.


The lavish, early 18th-century bed was found, still packed in its original crate, in 1985, having never been installed.


©National Trust Images/Andreas Von Einseidel

As a result, it remains in near perfect condition and its Chinese silk hangings are still as vibrant as the day they were made.


When the National Trust took Calke Abbey on in 1985, the house and estate had fallen into total disrepair.


The Trust took a unique stance on preserving Calke’s buildings and contents with an ethos of ‘repair, not restore’, leaving the objects to tell the story of an era when the decline and demolition of grand country houses was extremely common.

Whilst the vast collection at Calke may appear grand and even bizarre, it highlights the rich, personal history of a family who never threw anything away.



The small, engaging displays of Discover Calke’s Treasures give visitors a unique behind-the-scenes look at how the conservation team care for Calke’s collection and an insight into the treasures of the past.


Seek out the treasure for yourself at Calke Abbey.


The Chinese silk hangings of the State Bed are still as vibrant as the day they were made.

 

Written by Levitha Biji

Levitha is a broadcast journalism graduate, currently studying MA International Media and Communication Studies at the University of Nottingham. Having lived in three countries and being fluent in three languages, she's passionate about global journalism. She's recently finished an internship with Niche Magazine and also runs her own blog, Levitha Mariam.