The Darwins arrive at Down House, Kent.

One hundred and seventy one years ago Charles Darwin and his heavily pregnant wife Emma arrived at Down House.  Their initial impressions of the house were less than favourable but Annie Kemkaran-Smith, the house curator, shares what it came to mean to them.

When the Darwins moved to Down House in September 1842, their main aim was to have a quiet peaceful life, away from the London crowds and smog, so that they could raise their two children, William and Annie. It was also a place where Charles could continue his studies and concentrate on expanding his ideas about natural selection.

The next forty years were filled with a happy family life where eight more children were born, but also interspersed with tragedy as three of their ten children would succumb to illnesses that proved fatal. There was also the controversy of Darwin’s work, with the publication of On the…

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