Down House, Downe, England
Charles Darwin’s Home and Garden Laboratory
Down House, Charles Darwin’s home from 1842 until his death in 1882, sits on seven hectares of greenery and greenhouses. After his years of travel on HMS Beagle, Darwin married and settled with his family at Downe, where he continued his studies surrounded by a garden filled with plants for observation and experimentation. It was here that he wrote his masterpiece On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
Today, Down House is owned by English Heritage and has been restored to its original state. The gardens contain Darwin’s greenhouses with their collections of orchids and carnivorous plants. Outside the drawing room is a well-stocked flower garden with the original sundial. The lawn is filled with rare fungi, and the walls support different varieties of lichen. There’s also a wild “weed garden,” which was used by Darwin to confirm the idea of natural selection.
Darwin built a circular sandy path in 1846, and used it daily for walking and thinking (Figure 43-1). He called it his “thinking path,” and walked around it counting circuits by using a pile of stones. Strolling in the shade of the path’s trees today, it’s not hard to imagine Darwin taking a daily constitutional ...