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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > History > Local History > Darwin 200 - The Events

Charles Darwin (Natural History Museum)

Charles Darwin (Natural History Museum)

Darwin 200 - The Events

The great 19th century naturalist Charles Darwin had many links with Staffordshire, which is why so many events, including the Darwin Festival at Maer, were held here in 2009, his 200th anniversary year. Check them out here

The scientist best known for his work ‘On The Origin of Species’, fell in love, married, and worked on some of his world-changing theories, right here in Staffordshire.
To see more on the Darwin-Wedgwood-Staffordshire connections, click on the link below.

Anniversary Celebrations

The year 2009 marked: the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin; the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book, ‘On the Origin of Species’; and, as well, the 250th anniversary of the formation of the Wedgwood ceramics company.
So, Staffordshire celebrated Darwin 200 with gusto!

Fittingly, the village of Maer in north Staffordshire, where Darwin got married, had most of the celebrations, having formed its own Darwin Festival…

See what happened in 2009 in Staffordshire by looking through the list below.


Darwin events in Staffordshire 2009

At St Peter’s in Maer, on Thursday 29th January at 2.30, where Charles Darwin and Emma Wedgwood married, the link between the Darwin and Wedgwood families is  celebrated with a presentation of a Wedgwood plaque to commemorate the historic occasion.
A second plaque, from the Newcastle Civic Society (paid for by an anonymous donor) is erected outside the church.
The 29th of January 2009 is the 170th anniversary of the wedding.

Two days later, on Saturday 31st January, at Maer Village Hall, a dramatised production of the letters written between Charles and Emma, throughout their long marriage is being performed, by actors Andrew Bannerman and Rosie Byrd.
The production is titled ‘Better than a Dog’ (which was Darwin’s rather dry way of approaching the thought of marriage…!)
There are two performances, at 2.30 and 7.30, tickets £10.  Details from Darwin Festival admin (tel 01782 680613).

On Charles Darwin Day - Thursday 12th February 2009 – entrance to Erasmus Darwin House ise free, between 12 and 5pm.
Also on that day, there will be an illustrated talk ‘Erasmus & Charles Darwin: Visionary Men of their Times’ from Martin Killeen, of the University of Birmingham, at 7pm at Erasmus Darwin House - refreshments included in the tickets (£5 each).
For details, click on the Erasmus Darwin House link in the top right-hand corner of this page.
Philosopher Erasmus Darwin was Charles’ paternal grandfather.

Darwin Led-Walks 2009
● March 15: Darwin & The Geology of Maer
● April 19: Darwin & The Social History of Maer
● May 17: Darwin & The Botanical Landscape of Maer
● June 14: Darwin & The Natural history of Maer
(All walks led by Keele University academics.  Cost - £2.50 per person. Contact: 01782 680311)

● At the Potteries Museum in Hanley, they marked the 'Darwin 200' anniversary with some small exhibits in the Natural History and Social History galleries. The exhibits will be up from 24th January 2009 – 26th April 2009.

● April 26: Charles Darwin Lecture & Lunch at Weston Park, nr Stafford (website:

● May 1: 250th Anniversary of the Wedgwood Pottery Company, and its founding at the Ivy House Works in Burslem in 1759

● May 9th – Darwin Festival at Maer, Artists’ Day

Maer Hall Gardens Open Days - including access to the original "Darwin Sandwalk" and a Guided "Historical Walk" - from 2pm to 5.30pm
● May 17th and 24th / June 7th and 13th / July 5th and 19th / Aug 16th and 30th / and Sept 6th and 13th
For admission prices & queries, email:

● Sunday 31st May 2009 - Open Garden at Camp Hill House
This contains a fine display of late flowering rhododendrons in a magnificent setting for a fundraising event for Maer Hills Protection Group.  This historic house was built on Maer Hills for Sarah Wedgwood, aunt to Charles Darwin and his wife Emma Wedgwood; and was often visited by them.  See:

Victorian Fair at Maer
● On June 13 (2pm–5.30pm), with authentic Victorian amusements, to be opened by 'Mr and Mrs. Charles Darwin'! It's the major event of the Darwin Festival.
The fair features: a chance to buy 'Darwin Lollipops'(!); £2.50 admission, but £1.50  for anyone in Victorian dress; and a rare opportunity to walk round the gardens of Maer Hall (see the Maer Estate Cottages website - link in the top right-hand corner of this page - for more details and charges).

● On June 14, at 4pm, at the Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston, a dramatised production of the letters written between Charles and Emma, throughout their long marriage is being performed, by actors Andrew Bannerman and Rosie Byrd.
The production is titled ‘Better than a Dog’ (which was Darwin’s rather dry way of approaching the thought of marriage…!)
Alan Wedgwood (present head of the Wedgwood family) has sponsored this showing.
Tickets £20 including free entrance to the Wedgwood museum and refreshments. See:

● June 19: Lunchtime Talk – ‘Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin & James Bateman’ – at Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffs Moorlands (Web:

● June 19: Field Meeting 'In the Footsteps of Charles Darwin in Shropshire, Staffordshire & North Wales'.  The emphasis will be on Darwin's work as a geologist. Three nights at Keele University and two in Llanberis: £270 a head.  To register please visit The Geologists’ Association at:

● Tues Sept 15: Lecture by Dr. Jane Gledhill – ‘Darwin, Faith and Literature’
● Tues Sept 22: Lecture by Alan Self – ‘The Beagle Years – Darwin Ashore and Afloat’
● Tues Sept 29: Lecture by Professor David Amigoni – ‘Darwin and the Imagination’
● Tues 6th October – Phill Parker – ‘ Darwin and Space’.
The lectures will all be held in Maer Village Hall, from 10.30 am – 12 noon. Cost (for each lecture) £2.50 (including coffee). Details & tickets from the Festival admin (tel 01782 680613/01782 680311)

... By the way...  there are two promotional items to accompany the Maer Darwin Festival.
First is the tea-towel (pictured in the 'Maer photo gallery' on this very website), which outlines Darwin's musings over whether to marry or not.
Second is the short booklet, written by Sheila Mannion, titled 'Charles Darwin & Emma Wedgwood'.
Both items are available through the Tourist Information Office at the Victoria Hall in Hanley, SoT.

● Sunday 15th November:  All-Day Symposium - The Marriage of Science & Industry (The Wedgwoods and the Darwins), at the Wedgwood Museum

● November 21: Charles Darwin Day at Keele University - an interactive day in association with the Maer Festival
It will include a keynote introductory lecture by Mark Pallen of Birmingham University, Professor of Microbial Genomics, and also author of 'The Rough Guide to Evolution'.
The day will include: workshops on the effects of Darwin's ideas on the present-day life sciences, and guided botanical and geological walks centred on Keele's campus; readings from creative writing, using Darwin's ideas; a re-enactment by actor Andrew Bannerman; and finally, a concluding reading by the Whitbread-award winning poet Michael Symmons Roberts whose work (for instance 'Corpus', Cape: 2004) deals imaginatively with genetics and evolution.

A publication will be available on the day including original poems by former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, Ian McMillan and Polly Clark.

The event, which will take place on Saturday, November 21, will cost £12 per person or £6 for concessions (students/OAPS/unwaged). For more information contact or 01782 734169 or see

● November 24: The 150th Anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.

last updated: 23/11/2009 at 11:27
created: 19/01/2009

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