King Edward's School Home Old Edwardians Website

Summer outing 2009

The London OE's summer outing on 20 June began with a visit to Down House, the home of Charles Darwin for some 40 years, near Biggin Hill in Kent. There were fourteen members present but, with spouses, guests and five former pupils from KEHS, we were 34 in all.

This year marks the bicentenary of Darwin's birth and the house has been given a facelift to mark this. It was fascinating to see the family home (which Darwin extended several times), to view the study where he did most of his writing and to wander round the garden where he conducted his experiments. We were taken round by a hand-held audio-visual guide with commentary by Sir David Attenborough.

We later travelled a few miles south to the village of Westerham, where a leading member of the Westerham Society spoke to us about the village as far back as Saxon times. As we sat on the green, in the shadow of the Churchill statue and with General Wolfe also looking on, we listened to the history of the buildings in the village centre. Alan Taylor-Smith was bursting with interesting accounts and amusing anecdotes and he concluded with a short guided walk. He claims to have the largest private collection of Churchill memorabilia!

The day ended with an early buffet supper at the National Trust restaurant at Chartwell, appropriately named the Mulberry Room. Over an excellent spread and with wine flowing, we enjoyed the fellowship of friends old and new. Of course, in the presence of the ladies from across "the Drive", discretion had to be exercised when recalling memories of attachments from as early as the 1940's!

The weather was kind to us and, from the feedback received, this was a day greatly enjoyed by all.

Derek Ridout