Nov 6 2011: Uncanny Victoriana: Twenty Nine Images from Calke Abbey, Derbyshire (2009)

Walking around Calke Abbey, a former stately home now in the care of the National Trust, and deliberately preserved in the declined and eccentric state it had fallen to when it was handed to them, is akin to wandering through a cabinet of curiosites on a grand scale: an architectural Jan Svankmajer assemblage with dozens of rooms, staircases and corridors, all crammed with taxidermy, random accumulations of objects, books, paintings, toys and who knows what else. Everything is framed by peeling paint, crumbling corridors and worn carpets; chairs are left under dustcovers, wallpapers seem to be coming away from the walls, stairs wind through the building in perplexing sequence, and (if you choose to) it’s possible to leave via a long tunnel, and emerge among the stables and a former brewery feeling slightly puzzled as to how you got there. I think these photographs were taken on a visit during 2009, and I’d quite forgotten they were ever taken: I imagine they were imported from the camera, and have been sitting in the pictures folder ever since. At any rate, they seem to give a fair sense of what the place is like, and made me want to make a return visit soon.


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