|The collection contains title deeds, manorial records, family records, household records, photographs and other illustrative material, records on churches, schools and charities, legal case papers and estate records, including rentals, rent accounts, leases and records on tenancies, estate account books and other accounts, agents' correspondence, records on business activities, including on brickmaking, lead and lime workings, and maps and plans.
The estate expanded and contracted over several counties, but the main areas were concentrated in South Derbyshire and Staffordshire from the 18th century onwards. The Derbyshire estate was centred on Calke after 1622, including the house and park, and contained other properties at Chellaston, Etwall, Findern, Repton, Sinfin, Smisby, Stanton by Bridge, Stenson, Swarkestone, Ticknall, Twyford and Willington. As the Derbyshire estate was also regarded for administrative purposes as containing the manor of Hemington (just over the border in Leicestershire), records on Hemington and other places in Leicestershire are also to be found among Derbyshire estate records. The Staffordshire estate was centred on the manor and parish of Alstonefield, which included the townships of Fawfieldhead (or High Frith), Heathilee, Hollinsclough, Longnor, Lower Elkstone, Quarnford and Warslow. The Staffordshire estate also included properties in Butterton, Leek, Onecote and Sheen, and just as Hemington was regarded as part of the Derbyshire estate, so the manor of Wensley was regarded in a similar way as part of Staffordshire for administrative purposes rather than Derbyshire, being so physical remote from Calke itself.
|The Harpur family became one of the leading families of Derbyshire in the 16th century primarily through the efforts of Richard Harpur of Swarkestone, who enjoyed a lucrative career as a lawyer, rising to become a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1567. By his marriage to Jane Finderne, the heiress of the Finderne family, one of the important landed Derbyshire families in the late Middle Ages, he acquired several manors in South Derbyshire, including Ticknall, Repton, Stanton by Bridge and Swarkestone, where he settled. Richard also bought several manors and properties in different parts of the country, including Cheshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire (centred on the manor of Alstonefield).
Calke itself was not part of the estate of Richard Harpur, but was purchased by his grandson Sir Henry Harpur in 1622 (from Robert Bainbridge). Sir Henry Harpur was also the first baronet, having purchased the recently established title of baronet in 1626. As a hereditary title it passed through a succession of male heirs, starting with the succession of Sir John Harpur as 2nd baronet in 1639, and continuing after his death in 1669 through Sir John Harpur, 3rd baronet (died 1681) and Sir John Harpur, 4th baronet, who substantially re-built the main property at Calke between 170 and 1704, which was then known as Calke Hall. On the death of Sir John in 1741, the baronetcy passed to his son Sir Henry, 5th baronet, who died in 1748 to be succeeded his son, also called Sir Henry Harpur, the 6th baronet. On his death in 1789, it passed to his son, also called Sir Henry, who changed his surname to Crewe in 1808 as part of a vain attempt to claim the peerage of the Crewe family of Steane, Northamptonshire.
At around the same time Sir Henry, the 7th Baronet, changed the name of Calke Hall to Calke Abbey. There had not been an abbey at Calke originally, the religious house there being only a priory, which had been founded in the early years of the 12th century by Richard, the 3rd Earl of Chester. The widow of the 5th earl founded another priory at Repton in the 1130s, and the monks at Calke were removed there. The site at Calke, however, remained the property of Repton Priory and continued to be used as a 'cell' or small monastery subordinate to Repton. When Repton Priory was dissolved in 1538, Calke was closed down as well, and the site subsequently passed through several pairs of hand until becoming the property of the Bainbridge family in 1569, and then Sir Henry Harpur in 1622.
After the death of the 7th baronet in 1819, the title and estate passed to Sir George Crewe, 8th baronet. On his death in 1844, they all passed to his son Sir John, who re-established the Harpur surname, so that he now became known as Sir John Harpur Crewe. On his death in 1886, the title and estate passed to Sir Vauncey Harpur Crewe, 10th baronet. He died in 1924 without any male heir, his only son, Richard Fynderne Harpur Crewe, having pre-deceased him in 1921. On the death of Sir Vauncey, the title of baronet lapsed. The estate passed to one of his daughters, Hilda Ethelfreda, who had married Godfrey Mosley in 1918. On the death of Hilda in 1949, the estate passed to one of her nephews, Charles Jenney, the son of William Arthur Jenney and his wife Frances Catherine, who had been Hilda's younger sister. In 1961 Charles Jenney took on the surname Harpur Crewe. In 1981 Charles died, to be succeeded by his younger brother Henry Jenney. In 1984-1985 the decision was taken to transfer Calke Abbey to the National Trust in settlement of death duties.
|Records were first deposited by members of the Harpur Crewe family in the Derbyshire Record Office in 1981. A further 31 deposits were made up to 1985. The collection was accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to Derbyshire Record Office in 2006, with the exception of the Haydn marches. These were accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax in 1994, with ownership transferred to the National Trust, and were allocated to Derbyshire Record Office.