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Darwin's home opens with special anniversary show

PUBLISHED: 17:02 04 February 2009 | UPDATED: 11:16 12 August 2010

THE house of the world s most famous evolutionist is due to reopen with a new exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of his birth.

THE house of the world's most famous evolutionist is due to reopen with a new exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Next week a new display will open at Down House, where Charles Darwin lived and worked for 40 years. It will feature rare original objects, including manuscripts and notebooks written by him during his epic voyage on HMS Beagle.

The house, in Luxted Road, Downe, was closed at the beginning of November 2008 to give curators the chance to prepare the new £900,000 exhibition.

Star attractions include rare pages from the manuscript of On the Origin of Species and a first edition of the book.

On Tuesday (27), Bromley council finalised and submitted a bid to UNESCO in Paris to make Downe and the surrounding areas of Down House a World Heritage Site.

The nomination, the UK's sole bid for 2009, includes the farms, fields, and woodland around Down House and will help protect the Darwin legacy. The council will find out in June or July 2010 if the bid was successful.

Alistair Hayes, Bromley council World Heritage Bid Manager, said: "The application focuses on the science work of Darwin rather than his character. It is very exciting."

Bromley council leader, Stephen Carr added: "We are delighted that Darwin's Landscape Laboratory is being nominated as a World Heritage property in recognition of its importance to the work of Charles Darwin.

"Bromley residents will know how special the borough is and it is remarkable that we can walk in the historic woods and country around the village of Downe, just as Darwin did over one hundred years ago.

"It is essential that we maintain and protect the natural environment for our future generations."

There are also some personal belongings of the naturalist featured in the exhibition including his hat, microscope, original letters, family objects, manuscripts and specimens and his copy of Das Kapital, inscribed by Karl Marx.

HMS Beagle notebooks and his diary will be on show in digital format, detailing some of his expeditions in South America, New Zealand and Australia, as well as a full size replica of his tiny cabin.

Down House opens to the public on February 13. For more information see www.english-heritage.org.uk.

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