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Sunday, 22 March, 1998, 04:16 GMT
Darwin's home restored
Some of the exhibits inside Charles Darwin's house, which opens in April
The evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin developed his theories for The Origin of Species travelling around the world on board the ship HMS Beagle in the 1830s.

Darwin lived in Down House for 40 years
But to write the book, he returned to his home in Kent, Down House, a typically English village residence.

In recent years, the building has fallen into disrepair. Now, it has been restored and will open for public visit in April.

Darwin's work was equally nearly destroyed during his lifetime. Critics attacked it and him, ridiculing his theories and describing them as blasphemous.

The house had fallen into disrepair
His critical reputation recovered quickly, however, and he is now considered one of the world's most important scientists.

His theory stating humans are descended from apes is widely accepted as fact.

His present-day supporters called the dereliction of his former home of 40 years a scandal.

With a 2m lottery grant, they have rebuilt it as a tribute to the man who changed the way people think about the world.

Julius Bryant, of English Heritage, said the restoration provided a fitting tribute one of Britain's greatest thinkers.

Darwin was ridiculed when he first published his ideas
"It's only right that Down House should once again be available and providing the sort of inspiration that it obviously once did in his time.

"People came from far and wide to be shown around by the butler - that atmosphere's here again."

Mr Darwin used the grounds of his house to test the ideas he was developing for his theories. It too has been restored as a a living laboratory and museum.

His great-great grandson, Randal Keynes, said: "It's wonderful for me to be able to come back now and see the house being brought back as it was in Darwin's lifetime."

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