Isaac Newton's apple tree

The apple tree at Woolsthorpe manor which inspired Isaac Newton

The orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor contains an apple tree with a special place in history. Newton's tree is intertwined with his discovery of the law of gravitation – a story Newton himself told.

In the orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor there is an apple tree which first put down roots around 400 years ago. For at least 240 years it's been known as the 'gravity tree' and shown to visitors as Isaac Newton's apple tree, the tree from which an apple fell and caused him to ask the question: 'Why do apples always fall straight down to the ground?'

He began to think about why everything always fell down - not sideways, or upwards - and came to the conclusion that there must be a power (now we call it a force) that draws them. 'How far would that power extend?', he thought. 'Why not as far as the moon?'.

It’s a bit of a scientific legend but there are many truths in it. Much later in his life, Newton told the story to both William Stukeley and John Conduitt, his biographers, and they recorded it in their writings.

The real thing?

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 1820, pilgrims came to see it lying in the orchard. Sketches were made of it and the broken wood was 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 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’.
It's a 'Flower of Kent' apple tree, a traditional variety, which produces cooking apples which are green with a red flush, of varying sizes.
A photograph by the apple tree is an essential part of a pilgrimage 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."
- William Stukeley