Woolsthorpe Manor, located outside of Grantham in Lincolnshire (about an hour away from Nottingham), is the birthplace and historic home of Isaac Newton. The cottage where he was born, surrounding farmhouses, and apple orchard have all been meticulously preserved to reflect life as Newton would have known it and to illustrate elements of his genius.
Cottage where Newton was born. Photo by Erin Connelly.
Newton is said to have had a eureka moment in the discovery of gravity when he watched an apple falling to the ground in his orchard. That story may be apocryphal, but it is certainly brought to life in the form of Newton's Apple Tree. The tree has provided seeds for sister trees in such illustrious institutions as Cambridge and MIT in honour of Newton's most famous law.
The most captivating aspect of the cottage are the drawings by the young Newton preserved on the walls. It is thought that he was a solitary boy who spent most of his childhood alone in the house. Furthermore, paper and pencils were not readily available, so pictures and notes were often made in the soft walls of houses. On display are drawings of a bird, a castle, a Civil War soldier, and a six-fingered hand. The volunteers, who are some of the friendliest I have ever met, will happily tell you all about the stories contained in the house.
The Science Discovery Centre is located in the old barn. In the downstairs area there are interactive exhibits designed to illustrate Newton's principles of colour and motion. Upstairs there are more exhibits which focus on his studies of gravity and light.
Also located in the old barn is a delightful cafe that sells a range of coffees, teas, and homemade cakes. A visit to Newton's birthplace is the perfect day out for the family interested in educational and historical activities.