In a nutshell
Charles Darwin, his spouse, Emma, and their kids lived at Down House for 40 years from 1838. Several rooms seem as if the household nonetheless stay right here: with croquet units thrown into an under-stairs cabinet, a half-played game of backgammon on a aspect desk and Emma’s knitting left on a chair within the drawing room. Upstairs, an exhibition showcases Darwin’s voyage aboard HMS Beagle, together with a reconstruction of his cabin. Outside, guests can discover the sheltered gardens which Darwin used as an open-air laboratory, and the greenhouse through which he cultivated uncommon vegetation and devised botanical experiments.
No room at Down House escaped Darwin’s experiments. In the drawing room he as soon as positioned a jar of earthworms on the grand piano to see whether or not they might hear.
Darwin’s examine. Photograph: Jim Holden/English Heritage
Best issues about it
Unlike many Victorian dad and mom, Charles and Emma inspired their kids to play freely. Listening to the multimedia tour (narrated by Sir David Attenborough), we might image the youngsters careering round and whizzing down the creative picket slide that hooked onto the steps. Darwin’s examine is especially particular: crammed together with his books, scientific devices and papers, and the horsehair chair through which he wrote On the Origin of Species. We all loved imagining that we have been following in his footsteps by way of the gardens, too, and discovering his “thinking path”, which he strolled thrice a day, formulating concepts. There are many actions for youthful guests, resembling a path, dressing-up closet, commentary beehives and walled gardens to discover (typically extra actions throughout college holidays).
What about lunch?
There are picnic benches within the gardens. Alternatively, the small tearoom serves drinks, sandwiches, and scorching meals (from £four.95). A children’ field, together with sandwich, fruit, crisps, juice and a cookie prices £four.95. Cakes from £2.30.
Exit by way of the reward store?
You have to enter and exit by way of the store but it surely sells glorious nature-based toys, resembling magnifying glasses at £four.50, butterfly kites (£2) and youngsters’s books on nature and evolution.
Photograph: Nigel Wallace-Iles/English Heritage
A 15-minute drive from the A21/Farnborough. Free parking. The R8 bus from Orpington stops close by (besides Sundays) or the 146 bus from Bromley North and South terminates in Downe village, half a mile from the property. The nearest railway stations are Chelsfield or Orpington, about 4 miles away.
Value for cash?
You might spend a number of hours right here on a tremendous day and it’s free for those who’re an English Heritage member; in any other case it’s £12 (grownup), £7.20 (baby), or £31.30 (household with 2 adults). Under 5s go free.
Open every day 10am-6pm from 30 March to 30 September; every day 10am-5pm between 1 to 31 October. Opening instances fluctuate by way of the winter (verify web site for particulars).
eight/10. An unstuffy academic, light day-trip attraction with pleasant, educated workers.