Woolsthrope Manor Woolsthrope Manor

This small plain limestone manor house was the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton. His family had taken possession of Woolsthorpe Manor in 1623 and Isaac was born premature and sickly on Christmas Day in 1642. Isaac's father, a prosperous Lincolnshire farmer, had had died two months before his son's birth. His mother went on to raise a second family nearby but Isaac remained at Woolsthorpe and spent an introverted and isolated childhood in the care of his grandmothers.

His genius soon became obvious and an uncle declared that it would be wrong 'to bury so extraordinary a talent in rustic business'.

In 1661 Isaac Newton left Lincolnshire to continue his studies at Cambridge. However, in 1665 and 1666 he was forced to return to Woolsthorpe to escape the plague. It was at Woolsthorpe Manor that Isaac Newton formulated three great discoveries - the principle of differential calculus, the composition of white light and the law of gravitation. He later observed, 'In the two plague years I was in the prime of my age for invention and minded mathematics and philosophy more than at any time since'.

Woolsthorpe, with its simple T-shaped plan and mullioned windows, is a typical early-17th century manor house. The house, suitable for a well-to-do gentleman farmer of James I's reign, was built on the site of an earlier building sometime after 1623. The plain rooms have been furnished by the National Trust to reflect the lifestyle of a prosperous yeoman family. On some plaster walls of the passages and rooms mathematical diagrams and other figures may be identified. These may well have been scratched by Newton who as a boy was known to use any surface within reach.

The main feature of the house is the large upper room with its wainscot partition. According to tradition this partition was erected by the scientist himself to give him peace and quiet for his studies. The upright desk reflects the 17th century habit for writing whilst standing. A small panelled closet contains a copy of the third edition of the 'Principia Mathematica', Newton's major work.

The apple orchard in front of the house contains a gnarled old apple tree which may be a graft from the famous tree which inspired Newton to formulate the law of gravitation. The apple tree has been identified by Kew Gardens as a very old species called 'Flower of Kent'.

Woolsthorpe Manor was transferred to National Trust in 1943 by the Royal Society and the Pilgrim Trust who provided funds for its repair.