Are you a fan of the 19th Century
scientist, Charles Darwin?
If so, this website is for you!
This website aims to draw together key publications, media and websites on Charles Darwin for the enthusiast.
Darwin has been an inspiration to me for many years. I have been lucky enough to have worked as an officer in the field of nature conservation in both Downe and Shropshire - two landscapes Darwin held dear!
I worked for 18 years around Downe and was involved in the bids that sought to inscribe ‘Darwin’s Landscape Laboratory’ in Downe as a World Heritage Site back in 2007 and 2010. As a newcomer to Shropshire I was curious of the environment in which Darwin spent his youth.
The book presents how the Midland landscape Darwin grew up in contrasts with that at Downe. It includes extracts from Darwin’s and other authors’ works to give the reader a sense of Darwin as a person too.
The book starts with the chapter ‘An Exceptional Observationist’. This highlights some of Darwin’s opinions on observation and some of his influences and possible motivations in developing his skills as an observationist. ‘Darwin’s Play Settings’ takes a look at some of the locations in which Darwin developed his observation skills and his knowledge of natural history. Darwin described his surroundings at Downe in something called ‘The General Aspect’; I play on this by presenting briefs of how others and I describe Downe and Shropshire in the chapter ‘General Aspects’.
The chapters thereafter are all based on the biodiversity of Shropshire and Downe and species that Darwin is known to have studied or likely to have experienced. ‘Six-Legged Curiosites’ focuses on insect species that fascinated Darwin. ‘Flight Fantastic’ looks at the birds Darwin encounters in 1826 and outlines the range of birds found around Shrewsbury and Shropshire in his day. ‘In the Thick of It’ looks at trees and hedges of Downe and Shropshire, how he describes them and what species were or can be encountered in them, as well as some of his research. ‘A Bit of Botanising’ looks at wildflowers around Shrewsbury, including heathland, and then looks at the value of meadows and chalk grassland especially prominent around Downe. It includes some reference to some of the species Darwin studied in Downe. ‘Watery Investigations’ outlines Darwin’s love of fishing and the newts and other pond species of Shropshire and Downe., including some of the investigations Darwin undertook. ‘Mammalian & Reptilian Encounters’ outlines the mammals and reptiles particularly found in Shropshire and his likelihood of seeing them or his observations of them.
‘Under Our Feet’ provides brief coverage of Darwin’s investigations of geology in Downe & Shropshire and his studies on earthworms. ‘Brink of Extinction’looks at some threatened species of the Shropshire & Downe landscapes. 'Darwin's Last Years' outlines how Darwin was remembered around the time of his death. ‘Landscape Conservationists’ summarises the role of conservationists in sustaining and enhancing the quality of the landscapes Darwin held dear.
Bonus 'mini-chapter' only available on this website: 'Darwin's Travel on Home Shores'.