Published: September 26th 2010September 25th 2010
Actually this is a depiction ... the tube stop we went to is in the opposite direction.
Downs, Greater London, England
Rich planned our field trip today. He wanted to go visit Charles Darwin’s house in Downs, England. So we did. First by tube to Victoria Station. Then by express train, a sixteen minute ride to Bromley, South, about 7-8 miles from our destination. It was early afternoon, and we decided a taxi ride would probably cut down our travel time; there was a bus to Downs, but we weren’t sure how long that would take. We grabbed a cab outside the train station, and Phil, our cab driver, drove us to the front gate of the Darwin House.
The house has been restored; several rooms (drawing room, dining room, study and billiard room) have been painstakingly refurbished with original or duplicate furnishing, carpets and wallpaper. Upstairs several rooms have been turned into exhibits depicting Charles’ life, five-year voyage around the world, scientific discoveries, journals, and hands-on exhibits.
Darwin apparently did his experiments all over the house ... he put worms on top of the piano to see if they reacted to music; he used his billiard table to spread out bones and other things (I suppose when all other useful surfaces were covered). You
One tube, one train, one taxi and here we are.
know how those scientists are!!
I learned a lot about Darwin and, of course, have some opinions.
Charles was a privileged lad, his dad a doctor and his mom a member of the Wedgewood family. He got bored at Cambridge, was headed for seminary school, but he talked his dad into letting him take a sea voyage. I can’t remember the length of time he was supposed to gone, but it ended up being five years. When he returned he had a 750 page journal, lots of dead animals and skeletons. He marries a cousin (maybe Emma was the only one who would marry a man with a list of rules for a would-be wife). The house is out in the country, and Charles spent lots of time watching the birds and the bees do their thing in the back yard (and perhaps in the bedroom too as he had 10 children).
Here are some unsolicited thoughts and comments:
So Charles never had to work. His dad paid all his bills, even sending money to his son while he was traipsing around the globe. So he did have time to observe and think. He was depicted
Darwin penned his farmous theory of evolution sitting in that big black chair.
as a great husband and a good father. (I wonder about the rules and what would have happened if he married a woman who decided she didn’t want to follow his rules.) He was depicted as being very kind to his servants, even building them better quarters. But we’re talking Victorian England here, and he certainly was on the power and privilege train, so easy to be magnanimous when you’re on that train. But that’s my opinion. He probably was a very nice man for the Victorian era.
Then there are the aborigines he hauled back from Australia to see if they could “assimilate.” Didn’t take them long to look different - don’t know how they felt about being hauled to England. But I guess when the experiment was over, the natives were sent home, all but one who had died in England. Apparently when the natives returned to their homeland, they reconnected with their roots.
And I really think he may have looked at his 10 kids (7 of whom made it to adulthood and were all pretty successful in their own rights) as research experiments.
Seemed to me that he was a pretty complex individual,
Darwin would call his butler to come play billards with him, or Darwin would use the table for some of his experiments.
and even though my opinions may not sound positive, I really enjoyed learning more about him and his work.
After we toured the house and gardens, we walked to the town/village of Downs and warmed ourselves in a pub. Actually, I had a diet coke with ice so I didn’t need to warm up too much, even though it was pretty cold outside. We used the pub as a waiting room for the local bus to get back to the train station. The bus ride only took 15 minutes, our train arrived five minutes after we got to the platform, we rode back to Victoria Station, another tube ride back to the flat, a quick walk to check out Wahaca (authentic Mexican food), where the wait was 1 ½ hours for a table, nixed that, went to the Pasta Café for a yummy dinner, across the street to Snod (awesome yogurt made with agave as sweetener), sent Rich back to the flat and Kim and I went to the grocery store (almost a daily task) to pick up pork to make pulled pork tomorrow. We finally got back to the flat around 9:30 p.m. (and the streets were still
Table is set with wedgewood china. I thought it was always blue and white.
full of people going to dinner, hanging out at pubs, walking, going to and from the tubes).
It was a fun day … and educational!
There are more photos below