Down House is beautiful stately home in the village of Downe, Kent. The former home of Charles Darwin is now managed by English Heritage and is open for visitors. Well known for his theory of evolution detailed in the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin would have written much of his works here. Down House was also the home to his ten children.
English Heritage demonstrate the enormous value and importance of conservation with down house. The house contains a museum detailing the scientific achievements of Darwin which are widely reported and very well known, not as well know is his home and family life. Downe village was chosen for being remote from the City of London, however is now considered to be an outlying suburban village as it is within the M25 and modern transport means that the house is within two hours of Central London.
Originally built in the early 18th Century under a previous owner but would be mostly unrecognisable to the house today. During Darwin’s 40 year occupation the house was extended on multiple occasions to keep the building suitable for his growing family. The house had only been the central portion beneath the hipped roof in addition to a couple satellite buildings when Darwin took ownership in 1842. Whilst living in the house Darwin employed local architect Edward Cresy to design the extensions either side of the central portion of the building as well as replace the pitched roof concealed by parapets with the hipped roof seen in the photos.
Unfortunately English Heritage do not allow photos to be made within the house but visitors are free to take photos of the grounds and greenhouse. Hidden from the house is the greenhouse that contains plants from Darwin’s travels. It was winter when this author visited Down house and so the only warm areas were the three sections of greenhouse.
A trip to Down house is highly recommended. Darwin’s life is as fantastic as his discoveries and the house is a tell-all on both. Also recommend that you pick up the English Heritage guidebook.