Darwin’s house and laboratory denied world heritage status – for now

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Charles Darwin’s home, Down House in Kent, and the surrounding landscape where he carried out his great biological experiments, has been rejected, for the moment, as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Despite Down House’s huge international significance, UNESCO has so far chosen churches over Darwin. In 2000, the organisation gave joint world heritage status to three Canterbury churches, the Cathedral, the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church. They remain the only places in Kent to have been given the honour. Officials from the World Heritage Committee recognised the strength of the case in terms of scientific discovery. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said while it was disappointing for all those involved in the bid, he was pleased it could be looked at again and strengthened for re-nomination. "I’m pleased the committee has recognised the value of the site not only in terms of historical interest, but the celebration of achievements in science, paving the way for including a greater representation of the heritage of science and technology on the World Heritage List," he said. Darwin moved to the house in 1842 after his five-year journey around the world on HMS Beagle and rarely left the area until his death in 1882.

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