On April 19, 1882, famed English naturalist Charles Darwin died at his family home, Down House in Kent, at the age of 73. Now, Newsweek reports, the bedroom in which he died has been restored to its original appearance, and will re-open to the public on Thursday, June 30.
Darwin and his family lived at Down House for 40 years. It was there Darwin wrote his famous work On the Origin of Species, and carried out scientific experiments in its gardens. After Darwin died, his room was disassembled, and its belongings were scattered. Down House and its grounds are today managed by English Heritage, a charity that oversees many of England’s historic buildings and monuments.
To re-create Darwin’s bedroom, curators from the historical organization pored over family letters, an inventory of his possessions, and contemporary descriptions of the room, Christian Today writes. They also conducted a paint analysis, researched mid-Victorian interior design to obtain authentic period furniture and artworks, and included personal items like Darwin’s preferred Old Master prints and his favorite non-scientific books. The final product, they say, closely matches how Darwin’s bedroom—originally his wife Emma’s room, before Darwin moved in to share it after their tenth child died from scarlet fever—would have looked in the late 1850s.
“We want people to sit on the sofa and listen to the soundscape we have had done of Emma [Darwin’s wife] reading mainstream Victorian literature, like Alice Through the Looking Glass," English Heritage curator Sarah Moulden told Newsweek. "We want visitors to try on the type of clothes Darwin and Emma would have worn so we have a dressing up closet. The bedroom is a fun and interactive space. It is also a historically important—the very place where Darwin died.”
Visitors to Down House can also visit Darwin’s study, where he wrote many of his books, and take a tour of his family’s drawing room, billiard room, and dining room. Many of the rooms display original furniture and photos.
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