Our trailblazing guidebook

Close up of the Woolthorpe guidebook in a hand at the Manor door

Our guidebook ‘Isaac Newton at Woolsthorpe Manor’ puts Isaac Newton, his scientific discoveries and legacy at the heart of the story. The sleepy pastoral setting of our 17th-century Lincolnshire farmhouse often masks the worldwide scientific significance of the site. What happened here resonates around the globe today.

National Trust Books publish works across topics as varied as the Bloomsbury Set, garden history, folklore and cookery, as well as biographies and guidebooks. Assistant Editor Emily Roe produced the book, supported by a team of Newton enthusiasts, and commissioned Dr Patricia Fara to write it.

Dr Patricia Fara at Woolsthorpe
Dr Patricia Fara signing the Woolsthorpe guidebook
Dr Patricia Fara at Woolsthorpe

As a leading historian of science at Cambridge and having written a popular book on Newton, Dr Fara was the clear choice to write the guidebook. With her background in physics, she laid the foundation for the tone we wanted to achieve. She not only brought her expert knowledge on the subject, but also a fresh, modern perspective on a well-documented piece of history.

" From the very beginning we wanted to be really creative with the new Woolsthorpe guidebook, reflecting Newton’s science through the images as well as the words. We were experimental with the photography. For instance, we set up the famous prism experiment in Newton’s room and captured the hologram of the apple – one of only two in the world – for the back cover. After all, it’s about what happened there that makes Woolsthorpe so special."
- Emily Roe, Assistant Editor

In his ‘Year of Wonders’ between 1665 and spring 1667, Newton retreated from the plague at Cambridge to the comparative safety of the countryside. Newton stressed that these enforced absences at Woolsthorpe were the most fruitful times of his whole life.

How better to convey the importance of Newton’s work on science today, than by asking a renowned scientific figure to write the foreword? We were delighted when British astronaut Tim Peake agreed. 

In 2015 he named his mission to the International Space Station after Newton’s great work, Principia. On that same mission, Tim took apple pips from Newton’s tree into space. The pips returned from space, germinated under the care of Kew and now are young trees known as ‘Space Saplings’. The campaign to find new homes for the Space Saplings was launched by Tim Peake via video at Gravity Fields Festival.

Newton’s work at Woolsthorpe caused a seismic shift in science. Our new guidebook ensures the importance of Newton’s work and early life here are communicated to all. 

We want readers to understand the scientific importance of the site, but also take home the message that science is for everyone. Newton came from a simple farming background, was raised by his grandparents and faced financial hardship at university. He defied the expectations of his premature birth and rural environment to explore his thirst for knowledge. It took years of dedicated methodical work to fully form his theories on light, mathematics, gravity and motion.

Tim Peake reading Isaac Newton's Principia in space


Discover more about the story of the famous Newton apple tree in our brand new guidebook, with a special foreword by Tim Peake.