Inside Charles Darwin's house - TLC needed as bold ambitions could evolve grand mansion

The floorboards may creak, the wood may be rotting and the paint may be peeling off the walls, but a house steeped in history and cultural importance to Shropshire will be restored to its former glory.

Mount House, the place where Charles Darwin was born and grew up, has been bought for nearly £1 million including VAT 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, who recently sold his Welshpool-based electronics business Invertek Drives for £90 million, 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. But delve a little deeper and there is clearly work to be done.

You get a sense of the glamour that would have existed once upon a time - grand doorways, patterned carpets, high ceilings and big windows. Though, despite that sense of history in some areas, other rooms look like tired, old offices, with polystyrene ceiling panels and thin, worn out carpets.

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.

But, like Darwin, Glyn is a visionary, and has an idea of what he'd like to do with this room.

"We'd like to make this part of the 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. 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. The agency vacated at the end of last year, making it available for Glyn to snap up.

His provisional master plan is to renovate the office space on the lower two floors for small, local entrepreneurial start-up companies and support them from his own experience in setting up and running a business.

He is keen for the courtyard and end rooms to house a Darwin museum and tea room. In one of the back rooms, there is an historic bread oven which he hopes to bring back into use for sandwiches and cakes.

Bold ambitions, and there will no doubt be plenty of planning red tape to wade through. But Glyn is determined to get it done.

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

"Darwin is a really important historical figure. He's up there with Churchill and Shakespeare, and he's from Shrewsbury. I don't think we do enough to celebrate him. Hopefully this will be a way to do it."

Shrewsbury Civic Society's Mark Scutt, who is a keen Darwin historian, is excited to see how the project develops. "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."

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