great places to visit off the beaten path.
Down House was the home of the Victorian scientist, Charles Darwin (1809–82) from 1842 until his death 40 years later. Situated in the rural Kent village of Downe, but still part of Greater London, the house offered the peace and privacy that Darwin needed to work on his revolutionary scientific theories. The property is managed by English Heritage. It was at Down, primarily in the gardens, that he developed his landmark views on evolution by natural selection. They were both an outdoor laboratory for his experiments and also a place where he could reflect deeply upon their meaning. Today you can see 12 of his experiments which have been recreated in the grounds at Down, as well as Darwin’s beloved greenhouses. It was here that he made revolutionary discoveries about the reproductive behaviour of plants.
With its unique place in the history of science, Down House, is one of the major visitor attractions in the South East. See the study where Darwin wrote ‘On the Origin of Species’ in 1859, still as it was when he worked here, and stroll through the extensive gardens that so inspired the great scientist.
Equally fascinating are the glimpses you get into the life of the Darwins in the family rooms. And there’s an exciting interactive multimedia tour, narrated by David Attenborough, to tell you more about how Darwin developed his ideas. Open 11am – 5pm Weds – Sun. Admission charges exist. See the website for more details and for information on periodic special events: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/home-of-charles-darwin-down-house/
Location: Luxted Road, Downe, Kent – BR6 7JT
Rail Access: 15 minutes from London Victoria to Bromley South, followed by bus 146 OR from Charing Cross or Victoria to Orpington followed by bus R8 (not on Sundays).