The orchard at Isaac Newton's home
In the orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor we are custodians of a very special apple tree. A tree that first put down roots around 400 years ago. Yes, the very tree from which an apple fell and caused Newton to ask the question: 'Why do apples always fall straight down to the ground?'
The story of the apple falling inspiring Newton is a scientific legend. A story Newton himself told to his biographers. Thus people have been visiting, some on a science pilgrimage, to see the tree, orchard and the manor house at Woolsthorpe ever since Newton's time.
When a storm blew the tree down in 1820, pilgrims came to see it lying in the orchard. Sketches were made of it and the broken wood was used to make trinkets.
That might have been the end of the story, but contemporary drawings confirm the tree remained rooted and re-grew strongly from the base. This is the tree you can see now. Both the oral tradition and the dendrochronology confirm that it's the right age.
Newton’s tree is a 'Flower of Kent' apple tree, a traditional variety, which produces cooking apples which are green with a red flush, of varying sizes.
Keep your eyes peeled as we do sell the harvest in the Goat House shop and who knows, maybe consuming Newton’s apples might inspire some great thinking?
Today the tree is pruned regularly to keep it healthy; it 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’. Tree expert and volunteer Shaun cares for the tree throughout the year with support from the Outdoors Team.
There’s a special quality to the orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor, it is a place of scientific legend that has a contemplative air. Take time out and allow yourself to see the world through curious eyes just as Newton did. He was inspired by the natural world around him, unlimited by conventional thinking at the time.
The majority of trees you can see in the orchard are genetic offspring of the Newton’s tree. Grafting is the only way to guarantee that the genotype of the offspring apple trees are very close to Newton’s tree.
Over the years the National Trust and previous tenants have grafted Newton’s tree to ensure its succession. Not limited to the orchard at Woolsthorpe, there are trees grown from grafts in various institutions such as Trinity College Cambridge, Lincoln University and Tianjin University, China.
A photograph in the Orchard by Newton’s apple tree is an essential part of a pilgrimage to Woolsthorpe.
If you have an interest in the orchard or a love for apples, join us to celebrate Newton’s gravity-inspiring tree and all things apple on Apple Day Sunday 13 Oct, with apple-inspired science, crafts and tasty treats.