We love visiting large country estates whenever we get the chance. There is always something to appeal to everyone and plenty of outdoor space for the children to explore. Last weekend we used our National Trust membership to see how they celebrated Christmas at Calke Abbey.
Being a little disorganised, our first port of call was the cafe to make sure the children were all fed and watered. Hungry children can be relied upon to complain for the whole afternoon! Once they were fully recharged we wandered to a large vintage craft fare being held in a large stable block. Before we knew it I had persuaded Mr M to invest in some wonderful decorations from the 1940s and 50s!
Our next stop saw the children completing various craft activities. They made Christmas cards, paper chains and angels for our tree. This was really enjoyable and it was refreshing to see that all the activities were free. In the past we have been places where they find a way to charge you extra at every possible opportunity!
Christmas at Calke Abbey
Our next port of call was the Abbey itself. We have never been inside before. In fact, it is now closed for the Winter so they can clean and restore the property. They had opened a small portion of the house so we could see it’s magnificent tree and more importantly, so we could access the tunnels.
Apologies for lots of grainy pictures ahead. My camera doesn’t do well in low light but I hope you get an idea of our surroundings.
Everything had been given a festive edge. Even the bulls head had baubles dangling from it’s horns!
We were soon guided to the tunnels that would have been used to store beer and grains. The children were given lanterns and there was just (only just) enough light to stop us falling over!
All the nooks and crannies had been given a Christmas theme
After navigating the tunnels, which we all thoroughly enjoyed, we went to the park while we waited for it to go dark. The estate normally closes at dusk but today it was open late so everyone could enjoy the grounds when they were lit up as dark fell.
Calke at dusk
As the lights came on we saw a series of lanterns creating a pathway leading to the church. We walked through the forest, spotting lots of different light installations along the way. To be honest by now I was beginning to flag and the children were pretty tired too. Thankfully the church was worth the wait and was beautifully decorated.
Even the marble font had been blinged!
The walk back was lovely and the view of the Abbey, all lit up, was wonderful. The whole afternoon had been a great success and everyone had a different favourite part of the day. I am proud of myself for staying on my feet (or should I say my crutches) for so long. I paid for it when I got home but it was totally worth it!
If you get the chance it is well worth going to see how they celebrate Christmas at Calke Abbey, or indeed at any large country house.