The worlds most famous apple tree

Isaac Newton's apple tree protected by willow fence in the garden with the farmhouse at the background at Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire

The orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor may be small, but it's one of the worlds most significant scientific heritage sites. The famous story of Isaac Newton under the apple tree has come to hold the power of ancient legend.

The apple falls

Things fall downwards - everyone knows that. But when young Isaac Newton saw the apples falling, he wondered... 'Why do apples always fall straight down? Why does everything fall downwards?

Isaac developed a theory - there must be a power [that we now call a force], which draws them towards the earth, and he did the maths to prove it. 

Having the theory and the maths, Isaac didn't stop there: 'How far would that power extend?', he thought. 'Why not as far as the moon?'

" the notion of gravitation... was occasion'd by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood."
- William Stukeley
The world's most famous apple tree.
The apple tree at Woolsthorpe manor which inspired Isaac Newton
The world's most famous apple tree.

That might have been the end of the story (and some sources claim it was), but contemporary drawings confirm the tree remained rooted and re-grew strongly from the base, and this is the tree you can see now. Both the oral tradition and the dendrochronology confirm that it's the right age, and the Tree Council has certified it as one of 50 Great British Trees.

Today the tree - a traditional variety called 'Flower of Kent' -  is in the care of National Trust gardeners and tree specialists based at Woolsthorpe and beyond. It is pruned regularly to keep it healthy and continues to grow and bear blossom and fruit. A low barrier has been installed around it to protect the root run and give it some ‘breathing space’. Every January the community gather to sing wassailing songs and 'feed' it with cake and ale, and during the year thousands of people visit, some coming from the other side of the world to make their pilgrimage to the tree which inspired Isaac Newton.

A photograph by the apple tree is an essential part of your visit to Woolsthorpe - come and see it for yourself.