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article imageDarwin's house reveals the history of science Special

By Tim Sandle     Jul 24, 2016 in Travel
Downe - Charles Darwin was one of the founding fathers of modern science. He undertook many of his studies into natural selection at his home in Kent ("the garden of England".) Not only of scientific interest, Down House is set among some beautiful gardens.
Down House was the family home of world-renowned scientist Charles Darwin. It is now run by English Heritage. The house is set within the English countryside, in the county of Kent.
Down House  restored to its Victorian splendor by English Heritage.
Down House, restored to its Victorian splendor by English Heritage.
Charles Darwin was an English naturalist and geologist, widely known for his contributions to the science of evolution. Here Darwin established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors. Aside from this work, Darwin was also a naturalist of distinction, collecting thousands of species, for orchids to birds.
Darwin s finches (also known as the Galápagos finches) are a group of about fourteen species of pas...
Darwin's finches (also known as the Galápagos finches) are a group of about fourteen species of passerine birds. The birds were used as the basis of the theory of natural selection.
The house has a unique place in the history of science and evolution. It was here that Darwin wrote his major work On the Origin of Species', which presented the theory of evolution, which is part of scientific understanding today and pioneered modern genetics.
Charles Darwin s study at Down House  a perfect base for a Victorian naturalist.
Charles Darwin's study at Down House, a perfect base for a Victorian naturalist.
In 1838, Charles Darwin married Emma Wedgwood. The couple moved into Down House in 1842 to accommodate their growing family. Darwin made extensive alterations to the house and grounds.
The front entrance of Down House.
The front entrance of Down House.
And English Heritage have restored many original items of furniture, tracked down after the Darwin family moved to Cambridge after Charles Darwin's death.
The bedroom of Charles and Emma Darwin  at Down House.
The bedroom of Charles and Emma Darwin, at Down House.
The writing desk used by Charles Darwin in Down House.
The writing desk used by Charles Darwin in Down House.
During his life, Darwin's status shifted from celebrated naturalist, following his voyages around the world collecting valuable specimens...
Some of Darwin s specimens  which he studied for variations to aid his concept of natural selection.
Some of Darwin's specimens, which he studied for variations to aid his concept of natural selection.
One of Darwin s original microscopes.
One of Darwin's original microscopes.
To an anti-establishment figure who turned conventional scientific thinking on its head. In 1858, with Charles Lyell, Darwin submitted a very important paper on natural selection to the Linnaean Society (the group responsible for classifying life.)
A representation of human evolution at Down House.
A representation of human evolution at Down House.
A year later, in 1859, Darwin published 'On the Origin of Species', providing an explanation for the 'preservation of favored races in the struggle for life'. Among the time of writing, the house remained very much a family home.
The music room at Down Hall  where Darwin s children would play.
The music room at Down Hall, where Darwin's children would play.
Between 1842 and 1846 Darwin began a series of garden experiments. These were designed to show how plants need to adapt to survive environmental conditions and competition from other plants. One such study is recreated in the gardens.
A recreation of one of Darwin s experiments: this one is designed to see which seedlings survive  an...
A recreation of one of Darwin's experiments: this one is designed to see which seedlings survive, and which do not in competition for soil resources.
An ancient Mulberry tree. Darwin  a liberal parent  let his children climb down the branches from th...
An ancient Mulberry tree. Darwin, a liberal parent, let his children climb down the branches from the upper part of the house.
In his greenhouse (or 'glasshouse') and kitchen garden, during the 1850s, Darwin set up a series of ‘experimental beds’; here his investigations into plant evolution lead to many key discoveries.
The greenhouse in which Darwin collected specimens and conducted many botanical studies.
The greenhouse in which Darwin collected specimens and conducted many botanical studies.
A selection of carnivorous plants. These types of plants  which rely on captured insects for nutriti...
A selection of carnivorous plants. These types of plants, which rely on captured insects for nutrition, were extensively studied by Darwin.
During the 1860s, Darwin regularly suffered from poor health. During this decade he published 'The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication', which uses the phrase "survival of the fittest". In later years this phrase became one of the most misrepresented in human history. During the 1870s Darwin published his last major work - 'The Descent of Man', which outlined the theory of human evolution.
A view of the gardens at Down House.
A view of the gardens at Down House.
The grounds of Down House are very beautiful. Since 1996, English Heritage have being restoring the grounds to their original Victorian layout.
One of the period features in Down House. Darwin probably filed specimen cards here.
One of the period features in Down House. Darwin probably filed specimen cards here.
Many of the gardens had been developed by Darwin's wife. Emma Darwin had, apparently, found the house to be a little ugly and sought to brighten it up. Here best medium do achieve this was through colorful flowers.
A recreation of Emma Darwin s lupin garden at Down House.
A recreation of Emma Darwin's lupin garden at Down House.
English Heritage have carefully reconstructed the gardens as they would have appeared during Darwin's time. This includes the kitchen garden growing cultivars from the Victorian era, such as runner beans.
Runner beans  gown from seeds provided by Kew Gardens in London  traceable back to the 1850s.
Runner beans, gown from seeds provided by Kew Gardens in London, traceable back to the 1850s.
To recreating and orchard.
An Orchard at Down House. To recreate an Orchard of Victorian times  the apple trees are planted ver...
An Orchard at Down House. To recreate an Orchard of Victorian times, the apple trees are planted very close together (much closer than a modern orchard would have the trees positioned.)
And having thriving wild meadows.
A prefect English meadow at Darwin s Down House.
A prefect English meadow at Darwin's Down House.
Towards the end of this life Darwin was continuing to study earthworms (something he had begun 27 years previously.) His later conclusions were that without earthworms there would be little archaeology since the worms were key to preserving things buried underground.
This may lok simple  but Darwin designed a device to measure how much soil earthworms shifted over t...
This may lok simple, but Darwin designed a device to measure how much soil earthworms shifted over time (about 2 millimeters per year, in case you were wondering!)
Darwin died in 1882 from an angina attack. All the naturalist was buried in Westminster Abbey in London, most of his immediate family are inturned in the local church in the village of Downe (the village has an "e" at the end, unlike the house.)
St. Mary s church in the village of Downe. Affixed to the wall is a sundial  which serves as a memor...
St. Mary's church in the village of Downe. Affixed to the wall is a sundial, which serves as a memorial to Charles Darwin.
The Darwin family grave at St. Mary s church in Downe (Charles Darwin himself is buried in London.)
The Darwin family grave at St. Mary's church in Downe (Charles Darwin himself is buried in London.)
If you're interested in science, history, or simply enjoy period homes and gardens, Down House and the sleepy village of Downe make for an enjoyable visit. They provide a relaxing may to revisit the life and work of Charles Darwin.
The house is a popular tourist spot. Looking at tweets from Joy 2016, One visitor, Skeptic Ka (@SkepticKa) tweeted simply: "Darwin's beautiful garden." Another, Fredric Windsor (@Fred_Windsor) messaged: "Great to see Darwin's house and experiments." A third, Hefin Jones (@THJ1961) posted: "As always, totally enthralled by a visit to Down House."
A statue of Charles Darwin at Down House.
A statue of Charles Darwin at Down House.
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