In the orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor there's an apple tree which first put down roots around 400 years ago. Since then it's been visited by people from all over the world and has a special place in history as the apple tree which inspired Isaac Newton's theory of gravity.
Things fall downwards - everyone knows that. But the young Isaac Newton saw the apples falling and wondered: why do apples always fall straight down? Why does everything fall downwards? He developed his theory - that there must be a power (now we call it a force) that draws them towards the earth, and he did the maths to explain it. And having the theory and the maths, he didn't stop there: 'How far would that power extend?', he thought. 'Why not as far as the moon?'.
People have been coming to visit the tree and the manor house at Woolsthorpe ever since Newton's time, and when a storm blew the tree down in 1816, people came from far and wide to see it lying in the orchard. Visitors made sketches and the fallen wood was taken away and used to make snuff boxes and small trinkets.
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 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.
the notion of gravitation... was occasion'd by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood."