We Visit Down House, The Home Of Charles Darwin

May 24, 2018

We Pay A Visit To Down House, The Historical Home Of Charles Darwin

Here’s What We Thought Of Down House – And A Tip For All Parents (Based On My Terrifying Experience!)

We paid a visit to Down House, which is the historical home of Bromley ‘celeb’ Charles Darwin. The house – and beautiful gardens – have been preserved by English Heritage as a museum and centre to learn more about the life and times of Charles Darwin.

And read on for a tip on avoiding disaster at historical houses when you have small children.

But first, how beautiful is Down House?

Wisteria at Down House, Bromley

What Is Down House?

Down House is the historical home of Charles Darwin, the naturalist and author, and his family. It was in this house and gardens that Charles Darwin worked on his theories of natural selection.

The Grade 1 listed house and gardens are now owned by English Heritage, and you can visit and tour the house, with original rooms intact, as well as some exhibitions talking about Charles Darwins life and work.

The interiors are gorgeous! How lovely is this wallpaper?

The drawing room at Down

Here’s Charles himself: 

Down House, Down - Charles Darwin's House

Visiting Historical Houses With Toddlers – A Word Of Warning… 

I think time definitely has amnesiac properties, because you reach a certain age and stage of adult life and really embrace these type of historical days out. Partly because they involve getting out of the house and having some kind of cake, but mainly because everyone seems to look back at their own childhood visits to these places and think they loved them.

However, was that really true, or is it just the cloudy benefit of hindsight? I’m sure in reality there was a fine line between ‘love’ and ‘deadly dull’ when you were young, and these types of places were only interesting if there was a ghost or secret tunnel or a gift shop with ice cream (there was always a gift shop; it just depended on how generous your dad was being).

I say this because at Down House, F spent the whole time grumpily shouting ‘I’m bored! I’m BORED!’ I mean, she is only three and had been rudely awoken from her lovely car nap, but still.

Her reaction to the beautiful old house, full of history and intricate tiles and the like? ‘I’m bored!’

Her reaction to the amazing gardens and greenhouse? ‘I’m bored’

Her reaction to the – genuinely great – hologram of Charles’ D on the scale model of an old ship? ‘CAN WE GO NOW MUMMY’

However, the main incident happened when we were in the cordoned-off grand dining room, when I made a fatal error and *took my eyes off her for a second.*

In my defence, I was looking at something very grand and historical *cough* eyeing up the patterned floor tiles for Instagram *cough* when it happened. Loud alarm bells suddenly went off and we heard people running down the corridor towards the room, shouting. It was then I realised that within the space of about half a second, F had wandered under the tall rope that sectioned off the room, set off the alarms and was standing, innocently, on the wrong side of the barrier.

If you don’t want to know what happens if you cross the barrier at one of these properties, look away now.

(But loud alarms will sound and people will run in, shouting loudly).

Startled by the noise, she lurched towards the dining table. The dining table that was laid with many intricate place settings of easily breakable bone china and glass. A heartstopping moment, as I’m sure you would agree.

So I jumped over the barrier to attempt to retrieve her, shouting ‘noooooo!’ Meaning we were both on the other side of the barrier, just as the shouting people arrived in the room.

Who said motherhood is dull, eh?

It was all very polite when they realised we meant no harm (and after I’d given a million apologies).

However, when we  sheepishly went into the gift shop on the way out, the man behind the counter gave us a look. ‘Oh it’s you, young lady! I’ve heard all about you.’

So we did buy something from the gift shop, but mainly out of utter embarrassment.

My one tip then, for avoiding disaster on a historical day out?

Don’t take your eyes off your children. Not even for a second.

And P.S. always get something from the gift shop. And if you see me or my daughter on a ‘wanted’ poster behind the counter, now you know why.

Where Is Down House?

Down House, the house of Charles Darwin, is at Luxted Road, Downe, Orpington, BR6 7JT.

How Much Does Down House Cost?

If you’re an English Heritage member, it’s free! If not it costs £14.50 per adult, or a family ticket (two adults and three children) is £37.

Down House, Charles Dawrwin's House in Bromely

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