Museum plan for grand Shrewsbury house where Charles Darwin started life

It is the Shropshire house where Charles Darwin started his life. And now finally to is set to be given the status it deserves.

Millionaire Glyn Jones has bought Mount House in Shrewsbury and plans to create a Charles Darwin museum, cafe and offices
Millionaire Glyn Jones has bought Mount House in Shrewsbury and plans to create a Charles Darwin museum, cafe and offices

Millionaire Glyn Jones has bought Mount House, in Shrewsbury, which has languished in recent years as offices.

His plans include opening up large parts of the building as a museum - including the room where Darwin was born.

Glyn, who recently sold his Welshpool-based electronics business Invertek Drives for £90 million, will also use the building to help start-up businesses that need space to develop their ideas.

The house, which is around 220 years old, has been used in recent years as offices. But there wear and tear cannot detract from the splendour of its doorways and staircases.

He is keen for the courtyard and end rooms to house a Darwin museum and tea room.

Glyn said he was proud to be able to protect a priceless piece of Shropshire’s past.

“I think the key is to make it somewhere that people can come and spend a two or three hours," he said.

"We want the museum to be really engaging and interactive so kids will be able to come and enjoy it. It needs a cafe because that’s what people expect.

Charles Darwin lived in Mount House until 1839

“Darwin is a really important historical figure. He’s up there with Churchill and Shakespeare – and he’s from Shrewsbury.We want the museum to be really engaging and interactive so kids will be able to come and enjoy it.”

Shrewsbury Civic Society has backed the plans to restore the building.

Darwin historian Mark Scutt said: “In a way, Glyn has saved it for Shrewsbury. There was interest for overseas investors, but thankfully Glyn has bought it, and he has some wonderful ideas.”

Inside Mount House

The floorboards may creak, the wood may be rotting and the paint is peeling – but this is a special house.

Mount House has been bought for nearly £1 million by businessman Glyn Jones, who has ambitious ideas to bring it back to life and celebrate Shrewsbury’s most famous son. He’s expected to spend another £500,000 in breathing new life into the place.

Glyn gave the Shropshire Star a sneak peak inside the enormous mansion, which was built by Darwin’s doctor father Robert.

From a distance on a glorious spring morning, the Georgian property set in an acre and a half of gardens, looks stunning. Delve a little deeper and there is clearly work to be done. There are grand doorways, patterned carpets, high ceilings and big windows. But many rooms look like tired old offices, with polystyrene ceiling panels and thin, worn out carpets.

Glyn Jones with local historian Mark Scutt in the room where Charles Darwin was born

The room where Darwin was born perhaps needs more work than most. A big plaque adorns the door, but step inside and the eye is drawn to a patch of hazard tape, presumably covering a dodgy floorboard, and tired wallpaper and tatty radiators.

Glyn said: “We’d like to make this room part of a museum. If we can tidy is up and get some exhibits in here, that would be great.”

The house is a far cry from when it was built. Robert Darwin, a successful doctor, built it in around 1800, and Charles was born there on February 12, 1809.

Inside Mount House

He lived there until 1839, when he married Emma Wedgwood, granddaughter of the famous potter Josiah Wedgwood. It remained in the Darwin family until 1866, and passed through various changes of ownership until it was bought by HM Government in 1922. It was first occupied by the Postmaster General, and then from 1964 the Valuation Office Agency.

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