17-Sep: Darwin comes to Downe

Down House
Darwin’s ugly house (more photos »)

On 17th September 1842, Charles Darwin turned his back on the hustle and bustle of London and moved into his new home, Down House, in the village of Down (later Downe) in Kent. His wife, Emma, had moved in three days earlier.

In a letter to his sister Emily, written a few months earlier, Darwin had described at length the attractions of the village, then continued:

The house stands very badly close to a tiny lane & near another man’s field— Our field is 15 acres & flat, looking into flat-bottomed valleys on both sides, but no view from drawing-room, wh: faces due South except our own flat field & bits of rather ugly distant horizon.— Close in front, there are some old (very productive) cherry-trees, walnut-trees.—yew.—spanish-chesnut,—pear—old larch, scotch-fir & silver fir & old mulberry-trees make rather a pretty group— They give the ground an old look, but from not flourishing much also give it rather a desolate look. There are quinces & medlars & plums with plenty of fruit, & Morells-cherries, but few apples.— The purple magnolia flowers against house: There is a really fine beech in view in our hedge.— The Kitchen garden is a detestable slip & the soil looks wretched from quantity of chalk flints, but I really believe it is productive. The hedges grow well all round our field, & it is a noted piece of Hay-land

Down House was to remain the Darwins’ home for the rest of his life.

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
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