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Darwin Photographs

About this series – Sandwalk

On 12 January 1846 Charles Darwin leased a 1.5 acre strip of land from his neighbor, Sir John Lubbock for £1 and 12 pense a year for twenty-one years. Darwin planted this strip of land with hazel, birch, privet, and dogwood, and had a wide gravel path built around the edge.

This was to become Darwin’s “thinking path” where he strolled every morning and afternoon with his white fox-terrier, Polly, while his children played among the trees and bushes.

“The Sand-walk was our play-ground as children, and here we continually saw my father as he walked round. He liked to see what we were doing, and was ever ready to sympathise in any fun that was going on.” (Francis Darwin, Reminisces of his father, from “The Autobiography of Charles Darwin and Selected Letters”, Dover Publications, New York, 1992, page 75.)

The Sandwalk has two sides, the “Light Side” and the “Dark Side”. The Light Side is well lit from the west and has a fresh breezy character to it, and is very charming. The Dark Side has a rather ominous character. It is quite dark and gloomy, with insects flitting about and strange noises coming from the woods. The moss covered trees make odd creaking sounds and one gets the uncomfortable feeling of being followed by someone.