UNLIMITED ACCESS TO OVER 400 HISTORIC PLACES
Live and breathe the story of England at royal castles, historic gardens, forts & defences, world-famous prehistoric sites and many others.
The gardens of Down House, The Home of Charles Darwin are open. Takeaway catering is available and our shop is open, but all indoor areas remain closed, and safety measures are in place to keep everyone safe. You need to book your visit in advance. Please keep in mind the government’s latest advice on travelling. Find out more below.
Please note: the gardens at The Home of Charles Darwin will be open. To comply with government guidelines, all interior spaces including the house are currently closed. The toilets and shop will be open and the café will be open for takeaway light refreshments.
We've made some changes to help keep you safe, and things might be a little different when you visit. We may need to continue making changes as we follow continually evolving Government advice, so we recommend checking this information before your visit. Here's everything you need to know.
Charles Darwin marries Emma Wedgwood. They move into Down House to accommodate their growing family.
Find out more about the Darwins and Down House
Darwin completes his trilogy on South America's geology, and begins his classification of barnacles and his garden experiments.
Darwin starts work on improving the 'old and ugly' house, adding a full-height bay and dropping the lane down in front of the house for greater privacy.
Emma has ten children, the last at the age of 48. Darwin's health declines.
The Darwins' eldest daughter, Annie, dies, probably from tuberculosis.
Darwin takes over a corner of the kitchen garden for his ‘experimental beds’, where his investigations into plant evolution lead to key discoveries.
With Charles Lyell, Darwin submits a paper on natural selection to the Linnaean Society. His youngest child, Charles Waring, dies from scarlet fever. The house undergoes extensive construction.
Darwin completes and publishes On the Origin of Species, providing an explanation for the 'preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life'.
While the world reacts fiercely to Darwin's theories, he remains at Down House, now transformed into a self-sufficient country retreat. It has comfortable rooms, a kitchen garden, greenhouses and an orchard.
Darwin becomes increasingly ill. He publishes The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, which uses the phrase 'survival of the fittest'.
Darwin publishes extensively, including The Descent of Man. A two-storey wing and glass-roofed veranda are added to the house, nearly doubling its size.
Read a description of Down House
Darwin dies from an angina attack. The family permits him to be buried at Westminster Abbey. The funeral is attended by many distinguished guests.
Emma dies at Down. The house later becomes Downe School for Girls. Another school eventually takes its place but then closes. Down House is left empty.
Eminent surgeon Sir George Browne buys Down. He restores it, with the help of Leonard Darwin's photographs and memories, and opens it to the public.
Curators take up residence at Down on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons. There are major repairs. Responsibility eventually passes to the Natural History Museum.
English Heritage buys Down House. Structural repairs are carried out, rooms recreated and an exhibition added interpreting Darwin's thoughts as a naturalist. The gardens are also restored.
See highlights from the collection at Down House