Charles Darwin. A leading figure in the world of biology, whose contributions to the science of evolution have transformed the way in which we look at the natural world, even to this day. And a trip to visit Charles Darwin’s Home, otherwise known as Down House, makes for an educational and truly insightful few hours. You’ll walk away feeling inspired. Having learnt more about what it took for Darwin to conceive his theory, publish his work and then defend it from those trying to refute and disprove it. Are you wondering what it’s like to visit Charles Darwin’s House? Keep on reading. You’ll find out more about my experience, how you can get there and how much it’ll cost to gain entry to the property and gardens.
My trip to Charles Darwin’s Home (Down House)
Down House isn’t just Charles Darwin’s home. It was the birthplace of On The Origin of Species (you can even see the chair he sat on in his study whilst writing). As well as learning about Darwin’s work, you find out more about his childhood. As well as his time spent on the HMS Beagle travelling the world and his wife Emma and their ten children.
The tour of Down House is split into three parts. The first two parts are inside of the home, where unfortunately no photography is permitted. The beginning portion of the tour, which takes place in the upstairs part of the home, is the only self-guided part of the experience. Head to Charles & Emma’s bedroom where can dress up in traditional clothes from the time and pose for photographs. There is a lot of information, artefacts and trinkets in each of the rooms to learn from, as well as the helpful staff.
Once you’ve explored the upstairs rooms head downstairs to the Gift Shop and collect an audio guide. The downstairs rooms have no information boards, so this is the only way to learn more about this part of the house. Darwin’s study is probably the most fascinating room in the house, you can see the chair he sat in whilst writing his book. You can also discover the Billiard Room and the Drawing Room. The latter was home to Emma’s beloved piano, which is displayed proudly and is where the family would relax and spend time with one another.
Once you’re finished exploring the house, head outside for the second part of the audio tour. Find out more about how Darwin used the garden, as much as the house, for his experiments. Imagining a summers day spent outside learning by the family isn’t too difficult at all. Take a stroll along the Sandwalk, where Darwin would walk his dog Polly during his routine breaks from work. Or head to the beautiful greenhouse, where Darwin kept his collection of insectivorous plants, climbers and orchids. There’s even a Bee Keeper’s display too.
How to get to Down House?
By car, it’s pretty easy to access. I live in South East London so it only took 30 minutes to drive to the property. There is a car park on-site which has 42 spaces, which includes two disabled spots. There are public transport options, with the closest train stations including Chelsfield, Orpington and Bromley South. From Orpington, you can get the R8 bus which passes right by the property. And from Bromley North and South you’ll be able to get the 146 bus to Downe village, which is only 1/2 mile away from Down House.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Down House?
If you’re an English Heritage member, absolutely nothing! Dan and I pay £8.75 per month for our Joint Adult membership. Which gets us into hundreds of castles, gardens and houses like this one, completely free of charge. If you’re not an English Heritage member, prices aren’t too steep. With Gift Aid adults pay £14, children cost £8.40 and concessions are £12.60. All prices are cheaper without Gift Aid and family tickets can be purchased on the day too.
Would you like to visit Charles Darwin’s home after reading my blog? Or have you visited Down House before? I’d love to hear all about your experiences in the comments below. And if you’re considering getting an English Heritage membership, but want a little more information, check out my blog post titled Should I get an English Heritage Membership?
Until next time.
NB. My English Heritage membership was purchased by me and was not gifted to me for this post. All links in this post are affiliate links, so if you choose to become an English Heritage member you will not be charged any more, yet I will make a small commission from it. Please, note all views are my own.