Calke Unlocked – A visit behind the ropes

If you know me well you’ll know that I’m definitely more National Trust than night clubs and it’s been this way for a little while! We absolutely love the National Trust as you might have read in my post a few weeks ago about our first trip to Calke Abbey – we try to go at least once a month but recently because the weather’s been so gorgeous we’ve been getting out to a few every month which is awesome.

We have a couples membership which costs us about £9 and it’s so worth it. Entry to Calke Abbey for one adult is around £15 these days and with parking on top, you’ve already got a trip for a third of the price if you buy membership and only go once! Obviously I’d encourage you to go allllll the time because NT houses and gardens are the bomb, but you do you.

Have you ever visited a National Trust property and itched to get behind the rope barriers and see a little more? If you’ve ever wanted to investigate the history of somewhere even further and find out incredible stories about the families and friends of these property owners then you have to sign yourself up to a free tour. Luckily, the National Trust saw my post about Calke from a few weeks ago (thank you, Twitter!) and got in touch to see if we’d like to try their new Calke Unlocked tours.

This tour is part of what they call their ‘Millenial Minded’ approach and it’s awesome to have someone young, vibrant and genuinely excited about history to show you around these houses. They even say themselves that if you’re interested in a specific piece of art, furniture or even just a date they might not be able to help you with the minute details but they will be able to transport you into another world and explain history in an easy to digest way. The room guides are here for this as they have insane knowledge of the specific rooms that they’re in and would love to talk to you about it.

Our tour guide Michelle was possibly the best person I’ve ever met. She was hilarious and I now feel like I know so much more about Calke Abbey and the family even though I’d already been around the house myself. She points out tiny things that you’ll never notice like some dude photobombing in a painting, explains why some guy looks like he’s on a flying carpet and spots little cracks in the walls that are full of stories. She’ll even show you photos from the 80s, let you in on National Trust secrets and encourage you to play games and get to know the other people in your group.

We were in a group of 8, we went as a family of four and there were four other lovely ladies that joined us. Before the house was even open to the public we were treated to an 1.5-2 hour tour of the house and we learned so much. We even got the cutest photo at the end which I thought was such a nice touch! We got to go behind the ropes, walk on carpets in our bare feet, see where secret doors connected that you would never know otherwise and generally investigate the history of the Harpur Crewe family in an amazing way. Even if you automatically think the National Trust and history is ‘boring’ – just try it because it really is so much fun.

The lovely lady who invited us organised some cream tea afterwards which was perfect as we visited the day after #NationalCreamTeaDay and I’m not one to miss a Day of the Year! Scones, jam, clotted cream and tea were perfect after walking round for a couple of hours. We then checked out the chapel and the gardens again and headed home. We were there from about 10.45 to about 3.30pm and had a fab day. These things are free if you’re a member of the National Trust and I think anyone who likes to see new things, has a dog to walk, a child to entertain or just generally likes an activity needs to have a membership!

As you know, on my blog I sometimes do sponsored content but I only work with brands that I love. This post isn’t actually sponsored and I didn’t get paid. I simply got to take my in-laws into the house for free, as they’re not already members, and we had a complimentary cream tea each – (thank you National Trust). I accepted work on this post for free because I absolutely love the Trust and what they do and I hope you guys can see that and try it for yourselves!

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