Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Down House Visit

In mid September I was visiting my daughters and decided, as I had some free time, to try to visit Down House, the home of the famous naturalist Charles Darwin.  I say try as this will have been my third attempt to visit the house but in each previous case I found it closed for the week or winter.  Nevertheless I headed to Down village and the object of my pilgrimage.

I arrived shortly after opening time and spend several hours going through the exhibits on the first floor which has been laid out as a small museum of the great man's adventures and discoveries.  I then went back downstairs and borrowed a headset which described in detail the different rooms on the ground floor where he worked.  Unfortunately it was not possible to take photographs inside the building and reading many of his notebooks, now well faded, it is clear why this is so.  However, I took quite a few photos outside the building, at the greenhouses where he conducted his work on Orchids and other plants and along the sandwalk where he walked in circuits while thinking.

The front of the house is just metres from the road and is pretty uninspiring to look at however the view from the gardens is of a pretty large property.  Darwin was a pretty wealthy man and could devote is life to whatever objective he wanted without the pressing need for funds.

Another view of the house

The Glasshouses where he conducted some of his work on plants including Orchids.

Some extracts from his Orchid note book which can be found inside the glasshouse.  Only a small part of the Glasshouse is open to the public but well worth a look.

At the end of the walled garden is a small pathway leading to the sandwalk.

The pathway leading to the sandwalk

A couple of photos of the sandwalk which I walked around.  It basically follows a circuit around the edge of a small wooded area.  I am not sure how many of the trees which are there now were there in Dawin's day as it is over 150 years since he trod this path.
Me doing the tourist selfie!! Sorry :)

The site is now run by the National Trust and is open all over the summer.  It is open at other times of the year, mainly weekends I think, but you had better check before you travel if you are to avoid being disappointed.  The Trust has produced an excellent guidebook which can be purchased onsite which gives details of Darwin's life and times.  There is also a small gift shop and tea rooms.

I had a wonderful day but then the life and work of Charles Darwin is something I have been fascinated by since I got my first copy of The Origin of Species in my teens.  I would highly recommend a visit.

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