Picture courtesy of Google
Who hasn’t seen this graphic depiction of the theory of evolution?
According to Wikipedia, the essence of Charles Darwin’s ground-breaking theory is that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution challenged the established religious dogma of creationism.
Who wouldn’t want to learn more about this fascinating man and see his famous home? Of course we wanted to and that is exactly what we did. We went to visit Down House in Kent; the home of this very controversial and amazing scientist.
Darwin’s house is incredible. A truly beautiful English manor house with an outstanding and interesting garden and hot house.
I have never read Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. To be honest, I probably never will but it was delightful to visit his home and see the places where he conducted his research and worked on his ideas.
I gleaned a lot of new information about this man from our tour of Down House. He was a great family man and had ten children, seven of whom survived to adulthood. Charles was devastated by the death of his oldest daughter, Anne (Annie), at the age of 10 years old and this lead to his turning away from the established Church. Following her death, Charles who was with her at the time, sent the following letter to his wife Emma Wedgwood:
My dear dearest Emma
I pray God Fanny’s note may have prepared you. She went to her final sleep most tranquilly, most sweetly at 12 oclock today. Our poor dear dear child has had a very short life but I trust happy, & God only knows what miseries might have been in store for her. She expired without a sigh. How desolate it makes one to think of her frank cordial manners. I am so thankful for the daguerreotype [from 1849 and maintained at Down House]. I cannot remember ever seeing the dear child naughty. God bless her. We must be more & more to each other my dear wife— Do what you can to bear up & think how invariably kind & tender you have been to her.— I am in bed not very well with my stomach. When I shall return I cannot yet say. My own poor dear dear wife.
Emma Wedgwood was Charles Darwin’s first cousin and was of the family of Wedgewood pottery fame. We saw some beautiful Wedgwood pieces inside the house, including a ceramic depiction of the famous artwork, The Infant Academy, painted in 1782 by Joshua Reynolds.
You cannot take photographs inside the house but photography is allowed in the garden. I thought the doorway below was rather gorgeous and I liked the way you could see my reflection in the glass in this photograph.
There were a number of lovely fruit and other trees around the house and garden and also some really pretty flowers.
We went through the hothouses, where Charles conducted some of this research. The hothouses contained a couple of Venus Flytraps. I tried to grow one a few years ago and it died. I still find it most amazing that a plant that ingests insects is so sensitive to weather and soil conditions.
Naturally a visit to the home of such a controversial scientist could not pass without an argument between Mini-Me and Mini-T over the merits, or otherwise, of the theory of evolution. Michael is very religious and does not currently believe that humans evolved from apes. Greg is going through a very scientific phase and is adamantly convinced that this is the truth. A huge argument ensued which was only settled by my filling their mouths with lovely, fruit-filled English scones. There is a lot of truth in the old adage that the way to a man’s heart [and to stop him arguing with his brother and the stones in the street – smile] is through his stomach.
Robbie and Michael Cheadle are the co-authors of the Sir Chocolate Book series and Robbie Cheadle is the author of Silly Willy goes to Cape Town
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