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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. C. Marshall   22 November [1876]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Nov. 22d

Dear Marshall

I see no reason why I shd pay nearly 60£ more than is necessary to Mr Laslett,—more especially as Mr. Deards will probably do the work quicker & perhaps better—, so will you please agree with Mr Deards & inform Mr. L. that his estimate is too high.— I shd take it as an especial favour if you wd. ask Mr Laslett what he (& perhaps Mr Lewis) have had to pay for calculating their estimates, as I shd. particularly wish to pay the amount.2 If Mr. L. informed you of the amount, I shd. not be overcharged, & you could forward the statement to me, & I wd. pay Mr. Laslett.

You spoke once of an entrance to the gutter on new roof through a trap-door & sort of dormer-door. If such a door had some glass-panes in it, it would light the space under the roof, & if the central portion was roughly covered with unplained boards, it wd. make a capital store room for useless lumber, of which we stand in much need. A step-ladder might be hinged to trap-door & hoisted up to ceiling: I do not think this wd cost much & wd be worth doing.

What Horace3 said about partition is not worth doing.

Our hall will I fear be very dark, & I can see only one way to improve it,—about which I wd. consult you whenever you may come here: it wd. be a quite separate little job.—viz enlarging window in present Hall.—

I fear this whole work will hardly be worth your superintending & has already cost you much trouble;; but every man, I suppose, has a poor beginning in his work, & I am very much obliged to you for undertaking it.—

Please remember to put down a memorandum that the open space in the outside walls to be quite shut off from all connexion, either inside or outside, with the air.

Believe me | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to W. C. Marshall, 19 September 1876.
CD had asked Marshall, an architect, to undertake the building of a billiard room onto Down House, with a bedroom and dressing-room above (see letter to W. C. Marshall, 19 September 1876). Isaac Withers Laslett was a local builder. Alfred Deards was a builder based in London.
Horace Darwin was CD’s youngest son.


Mr Laslett’s estimate is too high. Mr Deards is quicker and better. Discusses building details for house improvement.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Cecil (Bill) Marshall
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.501)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10684,” accessed on 24 November 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24