Down House, built in the early 18th century, was home to the great scientist Charles Darwin for 40 years until his death in 1882. After moving to the house in 1842, Darwin and his wife, Emma, remodelled the building and its extensive gardens many times. The garden was integral to family life. It provided a place of play and relaxation, a kitchen garden to grow food, and perhaps most famously a place for Darwin to experiment and test his scientific theories. It was here that Darwin developed his theory of evolution by natural selection and wrote his ground breaking work ‘On the Origin of Species’ (1859).
Behind the house is the wild meadow where Darwin monitored plant and insect activity. It was here in 1854 that he first orchestrated his children to watch for bumblebees buzzing from tree to tree, and discovered that red clover depends on bumblebees to fertilise its flowers.