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Tuesday 17th February – sixth meeting of 2015

Things were quite different this week as five of our group were attending a funeral of a friend and also as it was half-term the remaining four of us decided to stay local and choose to visit Downe House the home for forty years or more of Charles Darwin.

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We met at the beautiful house and in usual tradition went straight to the tea room for a hot drink. Weather was a lovely a bright blue sky although pretty chilly. From the tea room we started the tour of the house. Cost of entry £9.30 for concessions. This is an English Heritage property but is not in the scheme that allows a discount if you are a member of National Trust so all the fiddling around for our NT membership cards was in vain!

The tour started upstairs where all the rooms had the story of Darwin, his life and discoveries. This was very well laid out, very child friendly, interactive exhibits with informative and interesting facts about him. It tracks his voyages on Beagle and how he worked on and wrote his ‘The Origin of the Species’ book here at Downe.

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Downstairs we collected an audio guide from front desk and once wired up started the tour of downstairs. This was set out in the way it would have been while Darwin and his family lived here. The house has been used for many different purposes since Darwin lived here one being a boarding school. Since English Heritage took over in 1990 they have renovated downstairs back to the Darwin time. Some of the pieces are originals. The dinning table, Darwin’s chair and work table and other items were donated by the family. The house is beautiful very large and with such a large family, Darwin had ten children although not all lived past childhood, you certainly get good vibes from it and the feeling that if must have been a very happy home!

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From here the audio guide took us into the garden and a walk along the Sand Path which Darwin walked everyday. Although a bright day it was very damp and cold by now but I’m sure on a Summer’s Day the huge garden and fields must look amazing.

We all enjoyed this visit and would recommend it to adult and children alike. Well worth a visit.

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We returned our audio guide and went to our cars and decided on lunch at the local Queen’s Head pub in Downe. The village is lovely and is a real English place!

We enjoyed a very nice lunch and then went our separate ways home after a very enjoyable day in the English countryside, in Kent the garden of England!