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Erasmus Darwin

posted 2 Dec 2013, 02:20 by Andre Hefer   [ updated 13 Dec 2014, 02:22 ]
Exceptional Erasmus, Swinfen Broun brass rubbing trail

by June Perks, BSARA member and Darwin House volunteer.

The Lunar Society of Birmingham

In the 18th century, clubs were all the rage in England, clubs for politicians, drinkers, singers and pudding makers for example. The Lunar Society of Birmingham was a club made up of never any more than 14 men who had new ideas. The Lunar men met in each others houses on the Monday that fell nearest the full moon. This arrangement was so that they had the moonlight to travel by in the unlit English Countryside. So, they called themselves the Lunar Men.

They were gifted amateurs & manufacturers, interested in investigating, discovering & solving the problems of their day. They discovered new medicines, new minerals, planned canals and invented the steam engines among other inventions. They drank, and laughed and discussed old & new ways of doing things and proposed completely new ideas requiring Society to think differently.

One of the leading members of the Lunar Society was Erasmus Darwin, who lived in Darwin House on Beacon Street, Lichfield. A pioneer of evolution, poet & inventor, he was a doctor of medicine and successfully treated rich and poor patients in the area


Find out more:

  1. Wikipedia: Lunar Society of Birmingham
  2. Lunar Society : www.lunarsociety.org
  3. Erasmus Darwin House : www.erasmusdarwin.org

Erasmus Darwin in 1770. Portrait by Joseph Wright of Derby

Erasmus Darwin

Copyright © 2013 Erasmus Darwin House, reproduced with kind permission.

A fool you know, is a man who never tried an experiment in his life

Erasmus Darwin was one of the greatest polymaths of the 18th century. It has been said that no one since has ever rivalled him for achievements in such a wide range of fields.

Born at Elston Hall, near Newark, Nottinghamshire, on 12th December 1731, Darwin was the youngest of four sons who became one of the foremost physicians of his time; indeed King George III asked him to be his personal physician but Erasmus declined, preferring to stay where he had settled in Lichfield, Staffordshire. He is responsible for the enlargement of the original house and its noble Palladian frontage on Beacon Street. With his ability to make friends Erasmus soon built up a vast network of associates, men and women like himself who independently became known as the leading social and philosophical lights of their time. With contacts like Matthew Boulton, Josiah Wedgwood, and James Watt he set up the Lunar Society which became the main intellectual powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution in England.

Among Darwin’s many talents was his extraordinary scientific insight in physics, chemistry, geology, meteorology and all aspects of biology. His theories of biological evolution by means of natural selection, although criticised by the church, were handed down from father to son and to grandson; but it was left to his grandson, Charles, to prove biological evolution. Towards the end of his life he gained recognition as the leading English poet of his day.


Find out more:

  1. Erasmus Darwin House : www.erasmusdarwin.org
  2. Wikipedia : Matthew Boulton : A manufacturer and business partner of James Watt.
  3. Wikipedia : Josiah Wedgwood : Industrialised the manufacture of pottery.
  4. Wikipedia : James Watt : An engineer who improved the efficiency of steam engines.

Image to the right courtesy of Wikipedia. Portrait of Erasmus Darwin, 1770, Joseph Wright of Derby.


Erasmus Darwin House

Erasmus Darwin House

Opening times

  • From 31st March to 31st October 2013:
  • Monday closed
  • Tuesday to Sunday: 11 to 5pm last admission to the House 4.15pm
  • Admission: £3 adult, £2 conc, £1 child, £6 family

Please be aware that, on occasion, the House may be closed to visitors when special functions are being held. If you are travelling from a distance please call beforehand to check opening times (Office manned Mon-Fri 9-5pm).

Contact Details

  • Erasmus Darwin House, Beacon Street, Lichfield, Staffs, WS13 7AD
  • Telephone: 01543 306 260

Getting here

  • Erasmus Darwin House is located in Beacon Street (see Google Maps), on the edge of Cathedral Close, and a few minutes walk from the centre of Lichfield. There are two visitor entrances. From Beacon Street, go through the green gates on the right-hand side of the House. Or from the Close, go through the passage way opposite the west end of the Cathedral and then through the herb garden. Both routes will bring you to a door at the rear of the House, where a member of our volunteer staff will welcome you.

Image to the right courtesy of Wikipedia. Erasmus Darwin House, Beacon street, Lichfield. Photo: © Bs0u10e01. Used under
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.