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The old village of Ticknall surrounded by beautiful parkland, in attractive well-wooded countryside is one of South Derbyshire’s prettiest villages. Originally, the Harpur-Crewe family built the estate village to Calke Abbey. However, following the sudden death of Sir Charles Harpur-Crewe in March 1981, while out setting mole-traps, the estate was crippled by death duties and the Abbey was handed over to the National Trust in 1985.

The Harpur-Crewes were a reclusive family and although Calke had been in their ownership since 1622, it remained a little known and little visited house. When the National Trust took it over, they found an amazing collection of old papers, natural history items, stuffed birds and animals, paintings and other objects d’art left where they had been placed, half a century, or more ago. In the stable yard was a remarkable collection of carriages. Sir Vauncey Harpur-Crewe loved horses and carriages rather than motor cars, which were banned from the park in the 1920s.

What excited the National Trust and members of the public about the acquisition of Calke was not the house itself, but the contents. Room after room revealed the extraordinary collection that the family had built up, then, seemingly when the room was full, just shut the door and left everything as it stood. Newspapers at the time carried editorials about ‘The house where time stood still’, capturing the public’s imagination to such an extent that the Trust’s appeal for a quarter of a million pounds quickly doubled.

Ticknall had its hey-day in the late 18th and 19th centuries, when lime yards and brick making, tile and pottery operations were in full swing. Lime, was used to fertilise crops, and to produce mortar for local building. Bricks manufactured in the village were put to use not only in Ticknall and Calke, but also in other villages on the Harpur-Crewe estate. Earthenware pottery was also another long established industry in the village.

A horse-drawn tramway was constructed running from Ticknall to the Ashby Canal, in order to link up with the Midlands canal system. It carried limestone in one direction and coal in the other. In order to comply with the sensitivities of the Harpur-Crewe family, its journey through the park was hidden from view, in a tunnel only about one foot below the surface.

The Arch has the shape of a canal bridge rather than a railway or tramway bridge. The Ashby Canal Company built it, 200 years ago, wide enough to accommodate a horse on the tramway footpath. It connected with the old brickworks on the north side of the bridge. It is one of the oldest railway arches in the world but the tramway is no more, abandoned in 1915.

The scanty remains of the 13th century church of St Thomas a Becket are still evident in the churchyard of St Georges’ Church. It was blown up, when it became too small to meet demand, with gunpowder from the lime yards. The name changed, perhaps to honour the patron Sir George Crewe. A medieval preaching or market cross stands in close proximity, transferred from a site in front of a row of seven almshouses, built by Charles Harpur in1772. Amongst the more modern tombstones is that of Ted Moult, the popular radio and television personality, who was a local farmer.

There are three pubs in the village - The Staff of Life, The Chequers and the Wheel Inn. Before 1851 anyone who had too much to drink was likely to be imprisoned, by the local constable, in the Village Lock-Up. It is small, hexagonal in shape and built mainly in brick, including the roof, with a strong oak door and no windows. Help though was at hand for at least some of the miscreants, as the kindly proprietor of one of the local pubs found that one of her keys would fit the lock. If any of her good customers had been locked up, she waited until the Police Constable had departed and then went and let them out!

The village is in a Conservation Area, but it’s the impact as a whole that is impressive rather than any individual building.

A number of distinctive green water taps are dotted around, similar to the one outside the attractive little Methodist Chapel. On Ashby Road, by the stone built Spring Cottage, is Spring Well with its crystal clear waters spilling out into a horse trough below. Local people filled their kettles here to obtain the best possible brew of tea! If you have not brought your kettle, then try the brew at the Post Office and Shop, in the main street (if it has re-opened following recent closure).

1. Calke Abbey.
2. The Arch.
3. Old Brickyards.
4. Methodist Chapel.
5. Village Hall.
6. St George's Hall.
7. Preaching Cross.
8. Almshouses.
9. Lock-up.
10. The Staff of Life.
11. The Chequers.
12. Spring Well.
13. Shop and Post Office.
14. Wheel Inn.
15. Old Lime Quarries.


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Foremark Reservoir, a 230 acre reservoir, provides footpaths, picnic facilities, sailing and good trout fishing. A recent addition is an area of woodland planted with 10,000 trees. Visitor Centre and children’s play area. Good parking.

Calke Abbey and grounds. (Tel. 01332 863822)  ‘The place where time stood still’ was the phrase used to describe this property when the National Trust opened it to the public in 1989. One of the most unusual of English country houses with large collections of birds, ornaments, paintings and photographs. For further information website:

Ferrers Centre for Arts and Crafts, located in the Georgian Stable Block of Staunton Harold Hall, where a wide range of goods can be obtained. Teas are available here or at the adjacent garden centre complex. In the grounds of the hall is the ancient Holy Trinity Church. Open all year Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays.


The Staff of Life public house (Tel. 01332 862479) as the name indicates bread was once baked here and in the 1800s it was known as ‘The Loaf and Cheese.’ It now concentrates on serving food and drink seven days a week. Meals available lunchtime and evenings. Outside seating.

Calke Abbey Tea Rooms: (Tel. 0870 458 4000) pleasant National Trust Tea Rooms open from 10.30-5pm, when the house is open to the public. For winter opening details of restaurant and shop please call.



Provides a wide range of features  with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.


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A special new sub-section has been added to this website, based on the Discover Derby Supplement, published by the Derby Evening Telegraph during March 2005. The most recent additions are:

 Click below for details.

Discover Derby


This lovely relaxing walk takes you through peaceful rolling South Derbyshire countryside, includes a close up view of Calke Abbey and an opportunity to explore one of the county’s prettiest villages.

For many the highlight of the walk is the discovery of Calke Abbey. Hidden away as it is in a hollow, you come across it quite suddenly. It was for many years home to the reclusive Harpur-Crewe family.


Ticknall Walk

All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.