Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Down House - Home of Charles Darwin

One Sunday last month my parents and I visited Down House, the home of Charles Darwin. I drove, which was a bit of an adventure as I still only have my provisional license! But thankfully, despite the small country lanes (which I find seriously scary to drive on as they are so narrow!), we arrived safely. :)

Front of the House. It was rather hard to take a good photo as the area in front of the house is not large. Inside the house there was an exhibition on Darwin's life on the first floor, and the rooms on the ground floor had been set out as close as possible to how they looked in Darwin's time.

The first floor exhibition:

Darwin's mother. I love her outfit!! :)

A photo of the house when Darwin lived there.

A model of HMS Beagle - the ship that Darwin sailed on from 1831-1836

Some of the items that Darwin took on his voyage

A recreation of the Poop Deck on HMS Beagle, where Darwin spent most of his time whilst on board, recording what specimen's he had found. You can also see an actor playing Darwin (projected image)

Emma, Darwin's wife.

A picture of Emma's childhood home.

Anne Darwin's beautiful writing case. Anne was Charles and Emma's eldest daughter, who really sadly died at I think the age of 10.
The contents of Anne's writing case.

A beautiful tiny smock, made by one of the Darwin children.

Some of the children's childhood belongings .

Emma Darwin's work box.

The contents.

A beautiful grandfather clock on the first floor landing.

A close up of the case.

The Ground Floor

The Drawing Room

One of Darwin's sister

Darwin and his sister Emily Catherine (known as Catty).

The bookcase in the hall where the morning post was put when it arrived.

Darwin's study

The Billiard Room

The Dining Room

The back of the house

The Garden

The old servants bells in what is now the cafe.

The house was very interesting and I really recommend visiting it. The only sad thing is the cafe, which was a real disappointment. When you visit a country house you expect it to have a lovely tea room/cafe selling delicious cakes, scones, sandwiches etc., not a cafe with a very plain and limited menu. It has so much potential, but for some reason it is not being fulfilled. :( Oh well.

Anyway, overall it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday. Oh and an interesting fact (well I thought it was quite interesting :) )  Downe House (the girls school) was founded at Down House once the Darwin's had left. I had no idea, I thought they just had similar names!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Chawton House Pride and Prejudice Ball

A few weekends ago I attended the Pride and Prejudice 200th anniversary ball at Chawton House, Hampshire (organised by the Hampshire Regency Dancers). Chawton House was owned by Jane Austen's brother Edward Austen Knight.

It was a lovely evening of dancing and fine food, but sadly the dancing was in a marquee and not the house.

The evening started with drinks in the Great Hall. A chance to admire everyone's beautiful clothes. :)

View of the drive from the Great Hall.

More gorgeous clothes

I just love Annemarie's gown. So pretty. :)

I wore my new green sari gown. Claire has a gorgeous gown made out of a sort of similar sari. :)

The empty great hall.

Another view of the Great Hall

Claire elegantly climbing the stairs to the Dining Room. :)

The Dining Room. We ate in here, but it was buffet style rather than sit down.

Claire in the Dining Room (we went on a sneaky tour of a few of the rooms when the dancing started :) ).

View, of part of the drive and the lawn, from the Dining Room

The first floor landing (It was rather dark)

The marquee where all the dancing took place.

One of the beautiful decorations in the marquee.

Real peacock feathers!! :)

So pretty. The colours are amazing!! :)


More dancing. :)


Ok, so it seems I went a bit happy-snappy with the dancing. :)

It was a lovely evening. A wonderful time was had by all dancing, eating and chatting in such a beautiful setting. :)

The following day we went on a tour of the house (stupidly forgot my camera *hangs head in shame* :( ). Anyway the house is definitely worth a visit.  The library has the most amazing first editions and Regency fashion plates. :) 

After the tour we were meant to have a picnic on the lawn, but sadly the weather was being typically British (it was chucking it down with rain!), so Claire and I decided to go and have lunch at Cassandra's Cup (a lovely little cafe opposite Jane Austen's House). We had more of a lea or tunch (lunch and tea :) ). The lovely Helen joined us for tea. T'was a very jolly day. :)