We went to go see some of Darwin’s places from his youth, where he was born, Shrewsbury, south of Wem. We did a self walking tour that Ros had printed out from the internet. Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury on February 12, 1809. The Father of Evolution, and such an influential scientist. The Darwin Gate is a modern homage to Charles Darwin. Three poles with metal figures, claw-like, on top. It says the design was inspired by the church Darwin attended growing up, St. Mary’s Church. When Mark and I came to England 15 years ago, we went to Darwin’s house outside of London, The Down’s House. I really wish I could have had a digital camera back then, so I could put all these photos together. This time in England, we visited the house where Darwin was born. In the early years of his life. The Bellstone.
On Morris Hall Courtyard, this stone was founded here, and it was the first introduction to Geology for Darwin. He was taught as a kid, that this stone was only found much further north, in Scotland and Cumbria, and there was no explanation on how it got there. Today, there is an annual toast in Charles Darwin’s name, on February 12. It was a cold day, cold for wearing shorts. A jacket or sweater was needed for us to feel more comfortable. Though walking around helped us stay warm. The Darwin shopping mall, was not there when Darwin lived in the city. Neither was the Darwin’s Sandwich Evolution restaurant. St. Chad’s Church was the church were Charles Darwin was christened. Seems funny to me, that this church is the venue for the annual Darwin’s Festival. Seems to me that here everyone is much more open to him and his studies, unlike us in the US, where his evolutionary ideas are not to be mixed in any way, with creationism. In the back of the church it is the graveyard. It his here that a scene in the movie A Christmas Carol was filmed. From here, we are heading towards Darwin’s house, but it is not in the map. I am not sure why, because it is one of the places we really wanted to visit. We walked through the quarry. A beautiful place. It is here, the Dingle, in these waters where young Charles Darwin would catch newts and make his observations. A beautiful place, with water sounds and amazing gardens. By now, the sun was shining and the heat was getting to us. So we stopped for an ice cream break. But continued our journey uphill towards Darwin’s house. Siena ate her ice cream and discovered this. Birthday and 25 on the other side. Exactly her date of her birthday, and this was on the 24th. It felt crazy! And certainly a special treat for the one-day short birthday girl. Over the Severn River. Here we are. All of us. Continued our way through narrow sidewalks and throughout the city’s walls. Until finally finding the house where Charles Darwin was born. The Mount. Without these signs, I don’t know if we could have found it. I still wondered why there is no signage in the maps or the guide to this. And once in here… I realized it is not a tourist attraction. There is no gift shop, no lines, no people at all. It is just us, and the cars parked of people working at this building today. I feel relieved though. We enjoy few moments here under the shade of an old tree. This large Georgian house was built by his parents, Robert Darwin a well respected doctor, and Sussanah, a member of the Wedgwood family. Now, we are ready to leave. happy we had found the house, and happy to have seen it. Wondering what it must have felt to grow up here. What did it look like 200 years ago. Where these trees just planted? Were there other trees? I imagine it to have been much more rural feeling, and probably as the stories say, what sparked the curiosity of Darwin as a young boy. Down the hill, on narrow paths, all the way to the Severn River again. This time to another bridge. Now, towards the Library, what used to be Shrewsbury School. This is the school where Darwin went starting at age 9. A boarding school in the middle of the town. Mark, being a teacher, and respecting Darwin’s life and his work, I am sure feels the circle of his own learning of such an important scientist in the world. Getting to see Darwin’s house where he was born and raised. Then, visiting this school where he spent his younger years of his education. Fifteen years ago, we were in Edinburgh where Darwin went to the university. Having navigated the waters in the Beagle Channel, probably has given Mark a connection to Darwin’s studies and his life. I think The Galapagos might be a trip we do need to take some day. Yes, maybe some day. For now, we are here celebrating Darwin’s youth, and learning about his life. A real hands on science/history unit. Darwin didn’t really enjoy his days at the school here, saying there was too much Latin and Greek. He even says in his autobiography that “nothing could have been worse for the development of my mind than attending the school.” That’s why they say maybe that is the reason they positioned his statue with his back to the building. And finally we head back towards the car. We walked by The Lion Hotel. Another landmark in the guide. Darwin’s adventures started at The Lion Hotel. He came here to catch the coach south to London to meet Captain FitzRoy to join the trip on the HMS Beagle down to Tierra del Fuego (Chile.) Five years later, Darwin returns in the coach to this hotel, to then go to his family home. It is three years later after his voyage that Charles Darwin marries his cousin Emma Wedgwood, and moved to their house in Kent. That’s the house Mark and I went to see last time we went to England, 15 years ago. It is there where he does most of his writings and studies that makes him so famous and controversial. Darwin lived in Shrewsbury until he was 27 years old. And I feel so lucky to have been able to do this tour with our friends, and Siena and Lucas. And of course, so much more fun to do with Mark and learn and see much of Darwin’s life, in all these years together. We are learning together as we travel this world of ours. The world is my classroom. And if you’d like to hear this story in British English, and do the tour in just 4 minutes, you should watch this great video.