Down House Collection Highlights
Down House was the home of Charles Darwin for 40 years. With his wife, Emma, and ten children, Darwin shaped an environment where he could both live comfortably and also develop and write his groundbreaking scientific theories. Flair and fashion were not key considerations for the Darwins when they furnished their home. Most of the furniture was chosen for its comfort and durability rather than style. Much of the rest was inherited.
A significant amount of this original furniture still remains at Down House today. It indicates that Down was a comfortable family home.
Charles Darwin’s life and career are also represented by the extensive array of personal artefacts and scientific paraphernalia that form the Down House collection. These include an assortment of instruments and notebooks from his Beagle voyage, various specimens from his studies at Down, and correspondence between Darwin, his family and friends. All of these help to form a valuable insight into a fascinating individual and his family.
English Heritage have collaborated with the Darwin Correspondence Project at Cambridge University Library to digitise three important collection items: two lavish albums containing photographs of scientists and naturalists in the Netherlands and Germany, which were presented to Darwin on his 68th birthday in 1877, and a photograph of another admirer, the Bohemian engineer Carl Kraus, who sent the image to Darwin on his 69th birthday in 1878.