Darwin, of course, is one of the giants of science and, indeed, human history, revolutionising the way we think about life on Earth and our place in the Universe. His theories of evolution by natural selection led to the founding of modern genetics, and modern genetics has led to pigs which glow in the dark. Soon they may finally fly.
A clever man, then. And a Londoner too, of sorts. While working on the Origin of Species, and cultivating his luxurious beard, Darwin lived at Down House in Bromley (s’within the M25, so that makes it London in our eyes).
The 18th Century home is now being nominated as a World Heritage Site. If selected, the house would receive an accolade held by only four other London sites: Westminster Abbey and Palace, Tower of London, Maritime Greenwich and Kew.
The quiet suburban residence might sit awkwardly for some, on a list that includes such wonders as the Great Wall of China, Angkor, the Grand Canyon and the Great Pyramid. But Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, who nominated the botanist’s home, wants to emphasise that it is also ‘essential to acknowledge scientific discovery’.
Hear, hear, and well done, Ms Jowell. Darwin’s achievement and legacy are monumental. One thousand years from now, the revolution he instigated will still be as salient as any of the other great wonders on the list. Or maybe we’ve been watching too much Richard Dawkins.
The decision won’t come until the summer of 2007, however, when UNESCO decide who gets added to their list.