Plymouth, Devon

The Beagle set sail from Plymouth in 1831 with 22-year-old Darwin on board as the gentleman naturalist and companion to Captain FitzRoy.

HMS Beagle

HMS Beagle

HMS Beagle

Darwin spent two months in Plymouth before setting sail while Captain FitzRoy was supervising alterations to the ship. He stayed in lodgings in Clarence Baths with John Lort Stokes, one of the two survey officers with whom he would share a cabin on board.

The waiting and increasing anxiety about the impending voyage caused Darwin to refer to this time as ‘the most miserable which I ever spent’.

Darwin commented to Henslow on the ship’s cramped interior, ‘The corner of the cabin, which is my private property, is most woefully small. – I have just room to turn around & that is all.’

The Beagle finally set sail from the Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth on 27 December 1831 with Darwin on board.

Cartoon image of a hatchet fish on a museum pass

Until 1938 whale carcasses were buried in the Museum grounds so that their flesh would decay leaving only the skeletons.