Monday, 5 April 2010
calke abbey and the old wooden horse
today we went on a day trip to calke abbey.
we climbed moss trees filled with crows.
we had to wait for hours to see the magical manor house.
so we explored all of the groves & gardens first.
when we finally got inside the house it was an eerie and cold magic.
the wealthy eccentric owners built the estate in 1702 and over the years the descendants boarded themselves up in a few rooms and left the rest of the enormous mansion to sleep. for 300 years it has been untouched. everything is still just exactly how it was found after the last resident died in 1980. an abandoned time capsule.
quiet libraries are crammed with thousands of ancient books and delicate maps. fossils and minerals, shells and stones in giant glass tombs in every room. tiger skin rugs, boxes of owls and bunnies, fish and ferrets. birds on strings, needlepoint and chinese silk, pianos and pillows and ancestor portraits sit quietly stacked before fireplaces.
most of the rooms are boarded up and only let in cracks of light.. as you creak through them, little old men stand with flashlights to shine light on the dollhouses, deer heads, writing desks with quill pens and tall candlesticks left behind. there are giant glass cases filled with swans and specimens, big cats and crocodile skulls. teeth and shells and feathers and bones. all labeled in flowery script and frozen in time.
pots, kettles and clocks crumble in the kitchen as if cooks just wandered away. outside, old black carriages with sheepskin seats wait in dark rows to be driven again. there are tiny carriages for children that wait to be hooked to ponies. the stables are hollow and full of horse ghosts. the only real horse is a white wooden rocker that sits in the front hall and keeps his glass eye on you as you spiral up the grand staircase.
this was a little boys room. the bed is tiny. he had hunted all of the animals himself. we saw little wooden plaques with crudely painted letters explaining in which gardens he had found each one. next to his bed a glass cabinet stands filled with bits of wood and bone, spiney sea creatures, shells, antlers, horns and hooves.
once we got inside we were hunting for the old wooden ships we had seen in some of the windows from the outside. the sails were billowing against the glass right before our very eyes. but inside, hard as we tried, we never found a single one.