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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. B. Innes to Emma Darwin   8 March 1872

Milton Brodie | Forres NB—

8 March 1872—

Dear Mrs. Darwin,

Reversing the usual practice I will begin with business. If it is not too much trouble would you tell me about Downe Church restoration, on which subject I am mystified. Some time ago Mr. Ffinden sent me a report and plan of certain improvements & additions.1 A chief part was to be done to the Church (apart from the Chancel) for about £1100, and he asked me to give £50. I agreed on condition that not less than 1000 should be laid out. Hearing that the subscriptions were liberal and must interest taken, I hoped all proposed, and perhaps even more might be done, and sent an offer having promised £50 to 1000 that I would give £25 towards additional £500. I have a letter today from Mr Ffinden to say some objections and difficulties were raised at a vestry, that no apse, organ chamber, or other addition can be made, that the sum will be only £700, and to know if I will still give £50. So I ask for information and as orators say pause for a reply, asking you to tell me what is the matter and what the hitch is

If you have had as mild and pleasant a winter as we have had Mr Darwin will have rejoiced. We have had very little wet, only two days ice, when we were slow and did not get ice houses filled, no snow, and a succession of warm days when even my wife has been out without much wrap and preferred open carriage. The Apricots and peaches on the open walls are in full bloom, and I expect no fruit in consequence, for frost must come.

I hope you have good reports of all your family, specially of your daughter. I think she is in London,2 it must be a great change from the bracing air of Downe. Jack has not favoured us with his company for some time. He was in for examination at Christmas, and only got away for a week or two.3 He proposes to be here at Easter. I hope to get South when the butterflies come out and see some of my friends, I vegetate here till I get as immovable and crusty as an oyster. I hoped to have seen the old Church restored. Did you see the Architects report? I had no notion it had been quite as good before it was modernized—

With our kindest regards to Mr Darwin and all your party | Believe me Dear Mrs Darwin | Yours faithfully | J Brodie Innes


George Sketchley Ffinden was the vicar of Down; Innes was the former vicar. On Victorian church restoration, see Crabbe 1878.
Henrietta Emma Litchfield and her husband were staying with CD and Emma Darwin at a rented house, 9 Devonshire Street, Portland Place, London (Emma Darwin (1904) 2: 254).
John William Brodie Innes, Innes’s son, took his BA degree at Cambridge University in 1872.


Down parish and family matters.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Brodie Innes
Emma Darwin
Sent from
Milton Brodie
Source of text
DAR 167: 31
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8238,” accessed on 26 May 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20