On Monday 6th October, Year 6 went on a trip to Down House. Down House is where Charles Darwin lived with his wife Emma and his ten children. Charles Darwin is a
famous scientist who first published the theory of Evolution. In Year 6 our RS topic has been concerned with the ‘Old Testament and Ethics’, looking at creation.
We had a half hour journey to Down House on the minibus. When we got there we had a quick tour of the garden before the rain started to come down. Charles Darwin did a lot of his research in his garden. He even had his own Thinking Path. During our tour around the garden someone found a moth that had camouflaged itself with a leaf. Animals camouflage themselves with their surroundings so that predators won’t eat them.
After going around the garden we went inside and to the exhibition. There were five different rooms which were all about Charles’ life and the theory of Evolution.
The first room we went in told all about Charles’ childhood. Charles Darwin was born on the 12 February 1809 in Shrewsbury. Charles was very fortunate to have been born into a wealthy family. Charles had shown a love for nature from his childhood. He shared a chemistry set with his older brother. Charles also had an insect collection. One day when he was searching for insects he found two insects and put one in each hand, he then found a third one so he put one in his mouth and the third beetle in his spare hand. Unfortunately the beetle let out a horrible liquid, so he spat the beetle out and dropped one out from his hand. Charles didn’t like his boarding school. Charles went to Cambridge University to study medicine. He didn’t enjoy medicine because he had to watch gruesome operations being done. During his time at Cambridge he joined the Glutton Society which is a society that eats unusual things like hawk.
The second room was about Charles’ time at sea. His father didn’t want him to go but his brother persuaded him to let Charles go. Charles spent 18 months at sea during the five year voyage on the Beagle, although he was on land quite a lot doing research. Charles also got very sick while on the voyage. Charles discovered lots of fossils and recorded all his findings and experiments in his notebooks which we saw. We also saw a reconstruction of his cabin which he had to share with 3 other people. It looked very dark, cramped, messy and uncomfortable. It was also very small for Charles and 3 other people to sleep in.
The third room was about his theory of Evolution. Charles worked for 20 years on his idea. All his work had to be a secret because people were very religious in those days and believed that God had made the world in seven days. His wife (Emma) was very religious and didn’t like Charles’ lack in faith. This caused a few problems in his marriage. He carried out a lot of experiments. One of them was collecting flowers from different places and putting their seeds in salty water for a long period of time. This was to see if the flowers could survive a sea voyage and still germinate. Charles published his theory in “The Book of Species” in 1859. He had to publish his book quickly because a person called Alfred Russell Wallace had a similar idea and was working on it. When Charles did publish his theory there was a lot of shock because people thought if this is true then they might think what is the point of life and natural selection has no purpose.
The fourth room was the children’s nursery. Charles Darwin had 10 children but one of them died when he was one month old from scarlet fever. We saw lots of their books and toys. We also saw their photo album. The best artefact is a stair slide which the children used to slide down the stairs and practise gymnastics. We also saw some early graffiti; his son had graved his name in a piece of wood and had done some drawing. It looked like the boy had burnt it in. I thought it was really amazing to see all the artefacts that have survived.
The last room was a activity room. I thought it was really good because you can play games and have fun, but you’re still learning. There were lots of different types of games. Here are a few examples; different faces, competition in the animal kingdom, watching clips about how different creatures evolved and how fossils are formed. My favourite game was about competition in the animal kingdom. In the game you had to try and fit all the Mountain Goats on a mountain without it tipping and falling over, whilst all the Mountain Goats had to be standing.
After looking at all five rooms we had lunch. After lunch we went downstairs to look at the rooms. The rooms have been reconstructed to look like the rooms that Darwin would have lived in.
We first of all went into the Billiard Room. Most of the space in the room was taken up by a snooker table. On the top left hand corner of the room there was a small desk with newspapers and letters. The newspapers dated back to the 1850s. One of the most fascinating things in the room was a newspaper on the snooker table and on the newspaper was some bat bones. I found that a bit odd.
We then went into the Drawing Room. The Drawing Room is like the lounge. In the Drawing Room there was a fireplace with lots of ornaments on top of its mantelpiece. There was a grand piano, lots of paintings on the walls and a big bookcase. Some of the books were; Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The paintings were of his family, Charles and famous scientists’ .I liked how the room has two big windows that lets in a lot of light and has a view of the garden.
The next room was his study. His study was quite big and it was full of bottles of animal bones and liquids. There was a big round table in the middle of the room. On the table was some letters, lots of paper with writing and diagrams on and a book. On either side of the table there were two chairs. I found out when Darwin was working his wife (Emma) would read to him. On the side of a door there was a dog basket. There was a small bookcase with a gas lamp on it. In the centre of the room there was a big fireplace. There were some animal skulls on the mantelpiece. Above the fireplace there was a mirror. On the right hand side of the mirror was a bell. Charles Darwin would pull the bell to tell the servants that he needed assistance.
We then followed a corridor into the Dining Room. The Dining Room was the biggest of all the downstairs rooms. In the centre of the Dining Room was a massive table, all laid out like some people were going to come and eat. The plates had lovely pictures of animals and birds on them. They had quite a lot of cutlery. On one of the walls there were pictures of famous Victorians. They had a very big window which let a lot of light in and you could see into the garden and a bit of the woods.
After looking at the Dining Room we went to the gift shop and then went back to school.
Thank you to all the staff who organised the trip because I thought it was really enjoyable.
By Anna (Year 6)