Orangery, walled kitchen garden and summerhouse, Calke Abbey

Record ID:  61110 / MNA112923
Record type:  Monument
Protected Status: Listed Building: Grade II
NT Property:  Calke Abbey; Midlands
Civil Parish:  Calke; South Derbyshire; Derbyshire
Grid Reference:  SK 3706 2245
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In 1772-4 the present walled gardens at Calke were constructed comprising a kitchen garden, physic garden (NTSMR 68830), flower garden (NTSMR 68831) and a narrow slip garden to the south of the kitchen garden, together with an orchard. The orangery acts as the focal point of the gardens and is flanked by matching glasshouses and backs onto the garden house. The orangery was probably built in 1777. The area of the kitchen garden is now a large grassy area. Its former paths and fruit trees levelled and dug up during the 1970s.

Identification Images (1)

Orangery, Garden Walls and Tunnel, Calke Abbey © National Trust
Orangery, Garden Walls and Tunnel, Calke Abbey © National Trust

Monument Types

  • KITCHEN GARDEN (Late 18th C - 1772 AD to 1774 AD)
  • ORANGERY (Late 18th C to Mid 19th C - 1777 AD to 1837 AD)


In 1772-4 the present walled kitchen garden (61110) was constructed, along with a physic garden (68830), flower garden (68831), a narrow slip garden and an orchard. The remnants of a stone wall which enclosed the orchard can still be found on the higher ground between the house and the walled garden. A plantation was created along the N and W sides of the walled garden to act as a screen. The remnants of a lime avenue can still be found on the edge of this plantation (61140), screening the orchard from the house.

The largest (kitchen) garden covers slightly more than 4 acres, now under pasture but originally divided by gravel and cinder paths lined with fruit trees. It incorporates a 19th century summer house in its SW corner. Centrally positioned between the three gardens is the conservatory/orangery with attached greenhouses, fruit stores and gardeners sheds, the former dating from 1777.

NB: By the mid-20th century (when Calke was still managed by the Harpur-Crewes) the kitchen garden was largely overgrown with scrub and bramble. A lot of the raised paths were levelled in the 1970s and the area was ploughed to grow crops such as mangolds and potatoes, as well as christmas trees near the south-west summerhouse. Some of the lead pipes that fed to two ponds were also pulled out as part of this process. Following this the area was then turned over to pasture. For more detail please see the 'Management Recommendations' section of this record (pers comms - Bill Cove, NT Countryside Manager, 2022).

[1-7] This site is composed of an Orangery (conservatory), with garden walls. All of these are dated from the 18th to the 19th century. The walls are red brick and rubble stone with sandstone dressings. These were probably laid down between 1772-1774 by a John Cope, the bricks were probably made locally by John Cooper. It is estimated that there are over 350,000 bricks in the walls that surround the kitchen garden, the physic garden, flower garden, "slip" garden and lastly an orchard (Rayner, H. 1988: 96-101, Vol 1).

The orangery has hipped welsh slate roofs and once had a glass and iron dome in the middle, it is located in a large irregular quadrangular enclosure divided in two near one end by a pathway flanked by walls. There is a much smaller quadrangular enclosure to N again with lower walls. The walls are mostly of brick, though some rubble stone can be seen, and have flat stone copings or moulded brick copings. Various pilaster buttresses, gate piers and segment headed doorways with panelled doors. Lean-to greenhouses can be seen on the inside of the enclosure. The orangery probably dates to 1779.

Coming from the N is a 65 m pedestrian tunnel that leads out into the park, this appears to have been used to allow the gardeners to go about their work without being seen from the house. In the small N enclosure there is a lean-to cartshed and associated outbuildings. It is possible that the tunnel was built in 1816.

The conservatory stands between two main enclosures. The S elevation of the building has five giant round arched windows with stone impost band and keyblocks. There appears to be the remains of glazing bar sashes. Two hipped roofs can be seen and between them was a glazed dome. The two storeyed N elevation has five bays with doorways and glazing bar sashes above. Moulded eaves cornice can be seen. The walled enclosures included a kitchen garden and a 'physic garden', which may have been laid out by William Eames'(Marshall, G. 1988: 103, Vol 1).

It is possible that the irregular shape of the gardens is due to a constraint imposed upon the design by earlier boundaries (Willes, M. 1989: 80).

The orangery was originally flanked on either side by matching greenhouses, the dome has long been dismantled and removed. The dome was possibly a later addition to the structure, probably dating to 1837. It was probably added to the structure by John Harrison of Derby for Sir George Crewe, it probably housed gardeners rooms and fruit stores (Willes, M. 1989: 81).

[8] The original heating systems for the Orangery, East and West Peach Houses relies on flues from fireplaces which took warm air through the brick walls in a 'hot wall' system. One of the smoke-blackened flues can be seen in the back wall of the former West Peach House. The remains of the fireplaces which originally heated the walls of the Orangery and both the Peach Houses can be seen in the East and West Stove Houses. The walls of the Orangery buildings contain a network of hidden, exposed and partially-exposed flues visible as smoke-blackening on the bricks.

An early hot-water saddle boiler was discovered in a deep, filled-in pit in the south-west corner of the East Stove House in the late 1990s (it was considered early as the outlet and inlet fittings were of lead rather than iron). The room immediately north of the Orangery contains was is thought to be the best surviving example of a very rare hot air 'cockle' stove, which was also discovered in the late 1990s, having been largely obscured by a partition screening a disused gardeners' toliet which has been inserted into the room at a later date. It is likely that the stove was installed by Sir George Harpur-Crewe, possible in 1836 when the dome of the Orangery was installed by Harrison and Co. of Derby (SNA66555).


  • SNA66555 - Report: Fiona Fyfe Associates. 2012. Calke Abbey Historic Garden Heating Systems. p.23-33.

  • SNA67084 - Report: Marshall G.. 1987-88. The National Trust: Archaeological Survey, Calke Abbey, Vol 1 - Estate Survey. 1 (of 3). p.103.

  • SZE17759 - Photograph - black and white: Gary Marshall. 23/06/1988. S Portal of Gardener's Tunnel, Calke Abbey. 2M/50CM. 24*.

  • SZE29771 - Photograph - black and white: Gary Marshall. 23/06/1988. S Facing Elevation of C18 Orangery. 2M/50CM. 21*.

  • SZE31162 - Photograph - black and white: Gary Marshall. 23/06/1988. Walled Garden at Calke, within Physic Garden, Greenhouse and Glass Frames. 2M/50CM. 20*.

  • SZE40032 - Photograph - black and white: Gary Marshall. 23/06/1988. S facing Elevation of C18 Orangery. 2M/50CM. 22.

  • SZE43528 - Photograph - black and white: Gary Marshall. 23/06/1988. Boiler House and Mushroom Sheds Abutting N Wall of Walled Garden. 2M/50CM. 25*.

  • SZE46785 - Photograph - black and white: Gary Marshall. 23/06/1988. Interior of Physic Garden, from Orangery, Calke Abbey. 23*.

  • SZE4795 - Photocopy: Ordnance Survey. A collection of OS record Cards.


Other Statuses and References

None Recorded

Associated Events

  • ENA1073 - Field Survey, Survey of Calke Abbey and its Grounds, Calke Abbey
  • ENA1074 - Archaeological Intervention, Watching Brief & Archaeological work undertaken at Calke Abbey between 1986 and 1988
  • ENA1076 - Heritage Assessment, List and descriptions for buildings of special or historic interest, Calke Abbey
  • ENA6921 - Heritage Assessment, Impact assessment, repairs to corner summer house, kitchen gardens, Calke Abbey, 2007
  • ENA5816 - Field Survey, Historic Building Recording of the Summer House within the Kitchen Gardens at Calke Abbey, 2009

Associated Finds

None Recorded

Related Records