Down House is the former home of the English naturalist Charles Darwin and his family. It was in this house and garden that Darwin worked on his theory of evolution by natural selection, which he had conceived in London before moving to Down. The Grade I listed building stands in Luxted Road, one-quarter mile (400 m) south of Downe, a village 14 miles (23 km) south-east of London's Charing Cross. The village was still known as Down when Darwin moved there in 1842. In his day, Downe was a parish in Kent, but it subsequently came under Bromley Rural District. Since 1965, it has lain within the London Borough of Bromley. The house, garden, and grounds are in the guardianship of English Heritage. They have been restored and are open to the public. Here is a list of things you see.
Stand in the study where Darwin wrote 'On the Origin of Species. The room remains structurally unaltered from Darwin's time, restored to the original 1870s arrangement and 1921 decoration.
Admire the furniture, of which nearly every piece is the original, and dozens of Darwin's possessions.
More than 100 years after it was dismantled and dispersed, English Heritage has recreated Charles and Emma Darwin's bedroom. This was the bedroom in which the revolutionary scientist died in 1882 and where, for 20 years, he enjoyed reading and resting, where he recovered from various illnesses and where he kept a watchful eye on his experiments in the garden from the room's large bay window. The room features novels Darwin would have read, a soundscape to conjure the experience of Emma reading to her husband, and a dressing closet allowing both children and adults to dress up as Charles and Emma. There's also a brand new free family trail taking visitors across the house and gardens as they explore what family life was like here at Down House.
The gardens were Darwin's 'outdoor laboratory' and he spent many hours here making observations and conducting his experiments. Take a wander past the vegetable patches and flower beds, and gain some inspiration of your own. Some of the Down house gardens highlight Mulberry Trees, Pigeon Loft, Glasshouse, Great House Meadow, and Wormstone.
The award-winning exhibition on the first floor of the house covers Darwin's life, his scientific work, and the controversy that it provoked. You will see many previously unseen objects including manuscript pages from the 'Origin of Species'; Darwin's hat, microscope, and notebooks; and a copy of 'Das Kapital' inscribed to him by Karl Marx. Take a free tour around Darwin's family rooms with a hand-held multimedia guide, narrated by Sir David Attenborough and Andrew Marr.
This stunning hidden gem is not one to be missed. Come and explore today.
The 'thinking path' that formed the basis of Darwin's daily perambulations around his estate. The hedgerows and undergrowth surrounding this peaceful stone and sand path offered plenty of scope for plant-life investigations. In the present day, visitors can follow in Darwin's footsteps by strolling down this tranquil route and reflecting on the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
The drawing room and see the piano treasured by his wife Emma, and discover the boisterous and liberal upbringing enjoyed by their many children. Explore the billiard room where Darwin enjoyed regular games with his butler, Parslow, and see the Kitchen and service wing in which Parslow worked.
Darwin's hothouse and greenhouse provided the perfect specialized growing environment needed to rear exotic plant specimens to use in his experimentation. Today, visit the greenhouse and enjoy a stunning collection of orchids, insectivorous plants, and climbers such as would have been grown by Darwin during his time at Down.
Bees provide a perfect case study for Darwin's theories. After exploring the Greenhouse, discover the beekeeper’s display and take a peek inside a living hive. Read about the different types of bees, and learn about the valuable work they do as pollinators.
Enjoy a tasty lunch or quick afternoon treat in our café. The café is in the old kitchen where all Darwin's meals were prepared. Some of the dishes use site-grown produce from the Kitchen Garden and local produce.https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/home-of-charles-darwin-down-house