Located near Grantham, Lincolnshire in the village of Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, Isaac Newton’s childhood home is perfectly preserved for generations to walk through and appreciate this little piece of history. Lush countryside surrounds the humble estate. A sturdy apple tree grows near the entrance, offering a sneak peek at what’s to come. Wild mushrooms with tabletop heads bend and flow, in much likeness of the mushrooms from Carroll’s Alice. Surrounded by all these natural splendours, it is no wonder Newton’s mind was a creative and expansive resource.
Before entering the quaint house, we pass by a pay-what-you-can bookshop. Located in the former stables, the timber-enforced ceiling, combined with stone walls and floors, create a space that is at once rustic chic and a perfectly cool oasis from the summer sun. Heading into the house, we headed right into the kitchen. Typical of most yeoman farmhouses, the kitchen had a large space that would have served as the stove – cooking area, and banisters above your head where vegetables and meat would be hung. Like the rest of the household, the kitchen was arranged with furniture comparable to that of the seventeenth century.
The dining room and the study were decorated with simple wooden furniture. Several windows peered into the rest of the estate. All of the windows were plain in design, offering unimpeded looks into the world outside. Most notable of these views were the ones into the garden. The famous apple tree associated with Newton’s law of universal gravitation lives on. By growing a tree with part of the original, Newton’s legacy lives on.
Not only is Newton’s tree preserved, but so are his doodles. What would have us yelled at by our parents is carefully protected by the National Trust. Sketches, carvings, and notes written on the wall have been uncovered by archaeologists over the years and fiercely safeguarded by the use of glass cases overlaying these historical gems. Newton was notorious for scribbling on surfaces and objects that were not meant for writing. His mind was a whirlwind of ideas, working too fast for organised thoughts of parchment and ink. One notable sketch, the first on the left, depicts what National Trust guides suggest could be a soldier, as Newton would have seen them marching by.
Setting our thoughts on Newton back down to earth, Woolsthorpe Manor was an enchanting look into a great figure’s past.