Down House: well worth the visit

Down House, Charles Darwin’s home in Kent where he wrote The Origin of Species, is now administered by English Heritage and they have made great improvements to it since my last visit nearly twenty years ago. More of the rooms have been returned to their original condition and there is an excellent audio guide narrated by David Attenborough that walks you through each of the rooms. My favourite, surprizingly, was not Darwin’s study but the drawing room: in it I sensed a sympathy with Nature that accorded with my own. French doors that open to the garden provide a sense of indoor-outdoor living that seems decades, if not centuries, ahead of its time.

The study itself was interesting. And something I had not noticed on my earlier visit: the corner curtained off as a one-man ensuite, a sort of shrine to Darwin’s troublesome bowel. I liked the billiard room too. It’s nice to know it wasn’t just all work and no play. In fact, a highlight was a pint consumed in the The Queen’s Head, the pub in which Darwin drank in the nearby village of Downe.
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