The room where the famous naturalist and pioneer of evolutionary theory Charles Darwin died has been restored by English Heritage at his home, Down House in Kent.
Darwin's bedroom, where he died in 1882, was dismantled and its contents dispersed. However, working from family letters, a detailed inventory, contemporary descriptions, paint analysis, and in-depth research into mid-Victorian interior design, English Heritage curators have sought to closely match the bedroom's original late 1850s appearance.
Tracking down appropriate designs, artworks and key items of period furniture, they have returned the room to one with which the Darwins would have been intimately familiar. The result gives visitors new insights into one of the 19th century's most towering figures, from the non-scientific books he read (Darwin kept a copy of Mark Twain's The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by his bedside) and his taste for Old Master prints, to the impact of his ill health and the central role his wife Emma played in supporting him.
English Heritage curator Sarah Moulden said: "Darwin may have travelled the world but Down House is where he did his thinking and writing. On the Origin of Species would not have existed were it not for the rooms, the landscape and the gardens at Down.
"But Darwin's bedroom and its recreation reveal a more personal side to the great scientist. We want people to flick through the novels that Emma read aloud to Charles; we want them to try on bed clothes in the closet next door; and we want them to look out of the bay window onto the extensive garden 'laboratory', just as he once did."
Charles Darwin's bedroom will open to the public on June 30.