Home of Charles Darwin - Down House

Schools

Bring the curriculum to life and inspire your students at the former home of Charles Darwin and the site where the internationally renowned 'On the Origin of Species' was written. From Victorian interiors and original furniture inside the house, to gardens of Special Scientific Interest, there is plenty for school groups to see at Down House.

Please note: We are offering exclusive access to the house for school groups  from 9:30 – 11:00 inclusive.

Information about your visit

Our number one priority remains the health, safety and security of all of our visitors, staff and volunteers. Our staff are still working hard to keep everyone safe and make sure you and your group have an enjoyable visit.

You and your group don’t need to have a COVID Pass to visit, but please don’t visit if you or any of your group have symptoms of Covid-19, have tested positive or if you’ve been asked to self-isolate. We’ll always follow the latest government guidance, and if anything changes we’ll update this page to let you know our plans.

Important information to consider before you book:

  • Face coverings are now legally required in all our indoor public places, including our visitor centres, shops, on all on-site transport, and in our cafes except when you are eating or drinking (unless exempt)
  • To keep everyone safe we’re continuing to limit visitor numbers at some sites and in some indoor spaces. Please book as soon as possible to secure your preferred trip date and times.
  • In order to process your enquiry as quickly as possible, please ensure you have provided the following information, or have this information ready when you speak to one of our advisers: visit arrival and departure time; age range of the group; subject(s) to be studied; learning objective; number of learners and leaders; name of trip organiser; name of trip leader; SEND requirements. Go to our bookings page to make an enquiry or update an existing booking.
  • Find out more about what to expect on your school visit and make sure you download our COVID risk assessments; download a free copy of managing education visits during the pandemic and if you're participating in a Discovery Visit download our managing Discovery Visits during the pandemic risk assessment
  • To make the planning process as easy as possible, make sure you check our Plan Your School Trip section at the bottom of this page, for updated information on the facilities at the site as well as our free resources.
  • You’ll need to book your visit at least 14 days in advance. Please check our terms and conditions for full details.
  • Although is it not a requirement, any teachers, parents, or students aged 16 years can check in via the NHS Test and Trace app, using the NHS QR code posters displayed at the site entrance. Please factor this into your travel/arrival time. For more information about how we are handling your personal data for NHS Test and Trace please visit this page.

At some sites you might not be able to use our handling collections or costumes as part of a free self-led visit, but where we can provide hands-on items in a safe way we will. We’ve adapted our Discovery Visit workshops to keep you and your group safe at all times, but for certain sessions we’re still working on this – please check the Discovery Visit section and Facilities section on this page below for further information.

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Curriculum links

Support your teaching at Down House with many links to the curriculum from history to science and local history

  • KS1 History: Significant historical events, people and places in their own locality; lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements
  • KS1-2 Science: Working scientifically, animals and plants, living things and their habitats
  • KS1-3 History: A local history study
  • KS2 History: Study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066
  • KS2 Science: Evolution and inheritance
  • KS3 History: Ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain 1745-190
  • KS3 Science: Working scientifically, biology: genetics and evolution

Free self-led visits

Explore and discover the authentic Victorian interiors, reflecting the home in which Darwin and his wife Emma raised their children. An immersive on-site exhibition guides you through Darwin's voyage aboard the Beagle from 1831-36, his scientific discoveries and the impact of his revolutionary theories on Victorian society. Continue your voyage outside to the extensive gardens and explore key parts of the site where Darwin undertook some of his experiments!

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Expert-led Discovery Visits

Let our experts bring history to life during an immersive Discovery Visit. Students will investigate Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. They'll get to grips with scientific equipment, understand the context of Darwin’s work and explore key parts of the house and garden. 

Our Discovery Visit has been adapted to follow health and safety guidelines and will still offer your students a quality and fun learning experience.

Find out more

Plan Your Trip

We have a wide range of materials to support your visit and make school trip planning easy. Download our free resources to help you make the most out of your visit and create unique learning experiences before, during and after your trip.

We also offer free planning visits for group leaders once you have made a booking. Our Education Booking Team is on hand to advise and help you create the best possible school trip to suit your needs and area of study.

  • Facilities
    • PARKING: There is space for one coach, which must be pre-booked: please specify when booking your visit if you require this space. Disabled bays are available in the car park. Please note that we cannot always accept coaches at the weekend or on a Bank Holiday. If you need to travel by coach on a Saturday or Sunday, you will need to be dropped off and the coach will need to park elsewhere. Please do not park in the local village.
    • EDUCATION ROOM: Unfortunately the education space is currently closed.
    • TOILETS: Male, female and accessible toilets are available on site.
    • LUNCH: Grassed picnic area with picnic benches. The tearoom serves a selection of sandwiches, cold platters, soups, ice-creams and hot food in the winter.
    • SHOP: The shop sells a selection of English Heritage gifts and souvenirs. Please bring your class in small groups at a time. 
    • ACCESS: The newly-opened meadow and some pathways including the sandwalk can be difficult for wheelchair users.
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