Darwin's home wins lottery

May 10, 1996

The home of Charles Darwin has been saved from its evolutionary decline by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Wellcome Trust and the Natural History Museum, writes Aisling Irwin.

Down House in Kent will now be owned by English Heritage and will probably be managed by the museum.

The announcement ends months of negotiation about who should have responsibility for the house and garden - a quiet, white pile crammed full of Darwin's papers, equipment and possessions.

The museum raised Pounds 625,000, some of which came from Japanese and American donors. The lottery fund has contributed Pounds 1.78 million and the Wellcome Trust has provided Pounds 230,000 to buy the freehold for the house, its five-acre garden and 28 acres of parkland from the Royal College of Surgeons which has owned the place since 1952. A further Pounds 500,000 has yet to be raised but restoration work is to begin immediately.

Neil Chalmers, director of the Natural History Museum, said: "Most people will see it as an excellent solution."

The Wellcome Trust has given another Pounds 500,000 to buy the adjacent three-acre Buckston Browne Research Farm.

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