We’re all familiar with the story of the falling apple which inspired Sir Isaac Newton’s thoughts on gravity, but did you know that many of his most important pieces of work were carried out right here in Lincolnshire?
Newton (1642 – 1727) is undoubtedly one of the county’s most famous sons and this year marks the 350th anniversary of the Year of Wonder when he made some of his most important mathematical and scientific discoveries.
His work on the laws of motion, theory of gravity and his part in the creation of calculus have laid the foundations for modern physics and paved the way for air and space travel.
Woolsthorpe Manor, his birthplace and childhood home in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, near Grantham, where he made many of his discoveries is managed by the National Trust and open to members of the public.
The 17th century farmhouse receives almost 50,000 visitors each year, with many making the journey from all corners of the world just to walk in Newton’s footsteps.
The property and grounds aim to give a real insight into every aspect of his life – and as well as the house there is also a hands on science centre to explore plus the 400-year-old apple tree which inspired his theory on gravity to marvel.
Woolsthorpe is hosting a number of events to mark the anniversary, including a summer holiday science of sport workshop, while staff are also carrying out their own experiment in honour of the milestone. Through the Illuminating Newton project they are looking at new ways of bringing Newton and his story to life and to better convey the manor’s role in and influence on his work.
Grantham is also hosting its third science, arts and heritage festival – Gravity Fields – from September 21-25.
During the week Woolsthorpe Manor will stage interactive sessions for students, inviting them to re-live the plague as it happened.
Other items include an anti-gravity box, top science presenters and the acclaimed Ministry of Science, as well performances by aerial artists Ockham’s Razor, Cirque Bijou and Baroque instrumental group Red Priest.
• For more information about Woolsthorpe Manor visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/woolsthorpe-manor and to find out more about Gravity Fields log onto www.gravityfields.co.uk
A magnificent life of discovery
Born at Woolsthorpe Manor, near Grantham, Newton
attended school in the town before taking up a place at Cambridge’s Trinity College in 1661.
He returned home four years later when the college was forced to shut as a precaution against the Great Plague, which is when he privately developed his theories on optics – the branch of physics involving the behaviour and properties of light, calculus and the law of gravitation, inspired by an apple falling from a tree in his garden.
In 1687 Newton gained international recognition after publishing the first of a trilogy of books known as his Principia, which detailed the work he carried out during his Year of Wonder.
He is also recognised for building the first practical reflecting telescope and
developing a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colours of the spectrum.
In later life Newton was president of the Royal Society and served as a warden and master of the Royal Mint.
He was buried with full honours in Westminster Abbey following his death in 1727, at the age of 84.