Woolsthorpe Manor is in the village of Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, not in Woolsthorpe near Belvoir Castle. Having visited Belvoir Castle I mistakenly thought I only had to head a couple of kilometres down the road. Sadly not. It is twenty kilometres away and I had to make a speedy journey to arrive at Newton’s birthplace at the prebooked time.
The two storey house is reasonably plain and the rooms within equally so. The bedroom where Isaac was born is to the left at the top of the stairs and his own room, where he added shelves to house his copious books, is to the right.
I knew very little about Sir Isaac, only his work on gravity, and was enlightened by the National Trust guides who were willing to share their knowledge. In Isaac’s bedroom there is a reconstruction of his interest in light and his studies on the spectrum. There are some drawings on the wall, too scientific for me to comprehend, but it was suggested these were added later and not Sir Newton’s own.
The orchard, where Isaac saw the apple fall, is alongside the house. The tree under which he sat I presumed would be long dead and gone, and indeed did fall in a wind, but I was assured the tree which is now protected by a wicker fence is an offshoot of the original.
I learned of Isaac’s early life, being born on Christmas Day, his disinterest in farming, his fascination with the sun, the moon and the stars, as well as astrology, not forgetting his brilliance in the field of mathematics and a lifelong attachment to alchemy. So diverse was his interests that I bought the book, Newton, by Peter Ackroyd and I am absorbing every word.
Newton was extraordinary, almost blinding himself by staring at the sun for a long period of time and actually sticking a needle in his eye to test Descartes theory of light! I shuddered at the thought and I’m never going to use the expression: “I’d rather stick pins in my eyes” again.
The science exhibitions in the outbuildings were interesting, but much of the physics went right over my head and I left concluding that all Newton and I really had in common was an apple orchard!
A statue of the man who arguably changed the world is in the nearby market town of Grantham, the birthplace of Margaret Thatcher, the former Conservative Prime Minister of the UK in the 1980s. (Least said about her, soonest mended). However, Sir Isaac was also an MP, something else he had in common with the Iron Lady, although both seemed to have a ferocious determination.
Sir Isaac spent much of his later life heading the Royal Mint bringing forgers to the courts with a dogged enthusiasm and not minding when they were hanged for their crimes.
His prized work, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, is still highly regarded and his laws of motion remain unchanged to this day. His scientific process of observation and experimentation are also encouraged in many a scholastic establishment worldwide. By many, including my good self, he is regarded as one of the greatest minds ever to have lived.
Before I go I must mention where I stayed in order to visit Woolsthorpe Manor and Belvoir Castle. (https://www.aechambersnovelist.com/post/chambers-at-large-in-belvoir-castle-leicestershire-england)
The Brownlow Arms in Hough on the Hill, about seven miles from Grantham, is a fabulous, historical, country inn offering a delicious menu, fine wines and very comfortable accommodation.
I spent two lovely nights there and would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I extend a warm thank you to Lorraine, Georgina and Alistair for making my stay so welcoming and memorable. The luxury offered there was a far cry from the frugal living quarters of Sir Isaac Newton’s early dwelling, but both enjoy the serenity and produce of the English countryside.
Instead of a dessert of apples I partook of a delicious assiette of rhubarb, a vegetable, (not a fruit!), I have planted next to my orchard. Now I must learn how to make the jelly, the sorbet, not forgetting the ginger and rhubarb cake!