The boys, hubby and I spent Sunday at Down House , the home of Charles Darwin. We had glorious weather and the plan was to go to St James’s park in London if it was beautiful and Down’s if it was rainy. It was beautiful but we still sent to Down. And I’m so glad we did.
I’m lying in bed typing this as I recall our day, and of course can’t help but imagine what life was like for Mrs Darwin in 1860. The pictures on the wall, portraits and family albums tell the story of a very normal, well to do family. To us he is the father of evolution. To the householders he was husband and father.
The drawing room is stuck in Victorian times; Victorian times that had no T.V or internet. I can’t help but wonder how Mrs Darwin coped without Mumsnet, she didn’t even have the luxury of a phone to call her mother with the question; “mum, Bessy’s poop is green, what do I do?”
There was no google to search and no latest research to show that babies under one shouldn’t be covered with a duvet, instead you were coming to terms with random advice from relatives that suggested your baby should be swaddled with their left hand hanging out and given pineapple twice a month.
Mothers in Darwin’s day had no choice but to use their instincts. Do you think we’ve managed to silence ours through our reliance on research and technology? I think Attachment Parenting existed then, it just didn’t have a name.
Would our parenting skills differ if we had a chance to travel back in time, having lived in this era too? Yes I am a big fan of H.G Wells’ books and would like to travel back at the very least to when I turned 18 to right some of my wrongs.
At this point you would have gotten over the fact that your husband wasn’t allowed into the delivery room. Or that you had no option but to breastfeed, and if you couldn’t someone else would. Which wouldn’t be too bad since you didn’t have a career, how could you when your place was in the home? If this was your first child you’d have just begun your journey as permanently pregnant, for that’s what you were going to be. Your career was seeing to the needs of the most important person in the house, your husband. Plus of course you had heard that your neighbour’s child was struck with Scarlet fever and you spent your waking hours praying it didn’t spread to your home. And if you were unmarried, let’s just say there wouldn’t be a place for you in the annals of your little village.
Have I left any thing out on Victorian parenting? Please share!
Down House makes a great day out for the family, the drive there is peaceful and scenic, it really does feel like you’re travelling back in time as you drive down the winding country lanes of Kent. The tea room serves delicious tidbits with dainty teacups, the gardens are just fabulous and the boys used up enough of their energy to sit still on the drive back home. It is part of the English Heritage so entry is free with membership. Parking is also free.Down House Road, Downe, Kent – BR6 7JT 01689 859119
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