Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire

Only minutes from the busy A1, and just a few miles from the town of Grantham, the undisturbed little village of Woolsthorpe can be found. Still surrounded by farmland, stands a typical 17th century stone manor house that blends into the locality, almost unnoticed, apart from its association with the early life of the brilliant scientist, Sir Isaac Newton.

A former medieval farmhouse with grazing land was bought by Newton's grandfather in 1623, but he soon began a rebuilding programme around the derelict shell of the original property to provide the modest family home of a yeoman farmer. Born prematurely on Christmas Day in 1642, to his recently widowed mother, Isaac Newton was raised at Woolsthorpe Manor by his grandparents until he reached the age of 12.

Often lonely, he would amuse himself by doing simple experiments and making models to try and understand things like wind speed and force. From an early age he showed unusual interest in a number of mathematical and scientific problems, as well as developing an understanding of astronomy. Little trace of the sundials he constructed as a boy remain at Woolsthorpe, but of the two that survived, one can be seen at the Royal Society in London and the other in the nearby church at Colsterworth.

Following his grammar school education, Isaac Newton went to Cambridge University and spent the next 30 years working in his laboratory, hardly ever returning to Woolsthorpe Manor, except for an 18 month period when the university was closed by the plague. It was during this time at Woolsthorpe Manor that the majority of Sir Issac Newton's mathematical conclusions were achieved, and where his pioneering work in many other fields took root.

Renowned worldwide for his theory on gravitation, Sir Issac Newton had pondered over a falling apple in the orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor one sunny afternoon, and a descendant of that famous apple tree still stands in the little orchard garden opposite the front of the house. Dedicating his life to his work, and never marrying, Sir Issac Newton did not return to Woolsthorpe Manor even after he inherited it on his mother's death. Following his own death in 1727, Woolsthorpe Manor was sold a few years later to another farming family who, apart from modernising it initially, made hardly any alterations to the property thereafter.

Remaining with the Turner family for a further 200 years, Woolsthorpe Manor was in a considerable state of disrepair by the time the Royal Society presented it to the National Trust in 1942 as a lasting memorial to Sir Isaac Newton. Now thoroughly restored to its appearance when Sir Issac Newton would have been living at Woolsthorpe, none of the furniture displayed ever belonged to the family, but there is some visible evidence of Sir Issac Newton's occupation. To picture him as the archetypal 'mad professor' is neither difficult nor unreasonable, and he was known to have made a habit of using various walls in the house as 'doodling pads'. Fragments of this graffiti can be seen in several areas, some attributable to this scientific genius, and others clearly not.


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