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The house that Wallace built seeks new owner


The house built by Alfred Russel Wallace after he returned from his exotic travels is about to come on the market.

Wallace — who came up with the concept of evolution by natural selection independently of Charles Darwin and prompted Darwin to publish his own work — had the house built in 1872 in Grays, UK, according to the website outlining the sale. Wallace’s pioneering continued in this construction. The house, which he named The Dell because it sat in a pit, was one of the first buildings in the United Kingdom made out of moulded concrete. The house is situated on the north of the Thames, east of London.

According to the Wallace Fund, which has a short history of the house online, the naturalist lived in the house for only about four years.

This year marks 100 years since the death of Wallace and a surge in interest in a man often consigned by history to a Darwinian footnote. In Nature recently, Harvard biologist Andrew Berry wrote: “Alfred Russel Wallace is too often remembered as little more than Charles Darwin’s goad… Sidekick status does Wallace an injustice. He was a visionary scientist in his own right, a daring explorer and a passionate socialist.”

In a reappraisal of Wallace’s book The Malay Archipelago in Nature, the American nature writer David Quammen calls him “arguably the greatest field biologist of the nineteenth century”. Wallace’s letters were made available online earlier this year.

If you fancy owning his old house, estate agents Stanley Hicks & Son suggest a guide price of £1.5 million.


  1. Report this comment

    George Beccaloni said:

    Note that the house is actually on top of a hill, rather than in a pit. Wallace probably named it The Dell because of the “picturesque old chalk-pit” which was below it, near where Dell Road is today. The house is important since Wallace himself helped to design it and because the other two houses he built were knocked down long ago. If ever someone wanted to create a Wallace Museum (unfortunately not very likely!) then the logical place to site it would be in The Dell, since the other good candidate, Kensington Cottage, his birthplace near Usk in Wales, is probably too small and out of the way.

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