Woolsthorpe Manor : The Home of Genius

The week before last, en route to Clare in Suffolk, where I stayed for a few days, I broke my journey at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire.

Woolsthorpe was the birthplace of polymath and ‘Renaissance man’ Sir Isaac Newton (1643–1727).

From the National Trust website :

Woolsthorpe Manor looks like a typical Lincolnshire farmhouse – but Hannah Newton’s eldest son wasn’t interested in the life of a yeoman farmer in the 1600s. Instead Isaac Newton saw the apples fall in the orchard and asked why they always went straight to the ground.

That wasn’t all. This farmer’s son went first to school and then to Trinity College, Cambridge, and when the plague struck in 1665, came home to Woolsthorpe Manor where he did some of the most revolutionary maths and physics of his age.

The house is small but there’s a story of Isaac in every room, from his premature birth to his time as President of the Royal Society. You’ll be taken back to the seventeenth century, a time of civil war and experimental science, and discover how both of these affected Isaac Newton and made the work he did echo through the centuries.

Rooms are furnished simply, each one focussing on a different part of Isaac’s time at Woolsthorpe. As you walk round we hope you’ll be provoked to think about how this complex man saw his early surroundings and grew up to change the world.

In winter access to the manor house is by guided tour only on account of the house being unheated. I had time before my tour began to have a quick look round the obligatory secondhand bookshop, to have a quick glance around the Science Centre and enjoy a warming bowl of soup and a cup of tea.

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At 12.30 about half a dozen of us assembled in the Science Centre and were taken round to the house entrance by the friendly and knowledgable volunteer guide.

Newton’s Crossed Bones Coat of Arms [learn more here] over the Doorway

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Introductions to Newton, his life, his home and his work took place in the Parlour where we were able to see original copies of the great man’s written works

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The Orchard viewed from Woolsthorpe’s Parlour

From the parlour we headed upstairs. We were shown Newton’s birthplace and the bedroom he later used as a study. He originally left Woolsthorpe to attend university at Cambridge but later, when the plague threatened the city, he returned home.

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Newton’s study/bedroom

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I was fascinated to notice that there’s a framed  print of Dürer’s ‘Melancholia’ above Newton’s bed. I recognised it straightaway following my recent visit to Somerset House.

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The National Trust have tried (and succeeded) to furnish the house much as it would have been in the seventeenth century. Of course, no actual physical evidence exists.

A further upstairs room is devoted to Newton’s life and work before you are returned downstairs to the kitchen the main domestic area of the house.

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From the kitchen we headed outside into the beautiful sunshine and the visit concluded in the orchard where Newton’s apple still stands and produces fruit.

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If you are travelling up or down the A1 through Lincolnshire and feel the need for a break and a wish to learn more about this fascinating man in beautiful and welcoming surroundings then I recommend the slight diversion: “follow the brown signs from A1. From Melton take B676 towards Colsterworth; 1 mile after Stainby turn left onto Old Post Lane, then left into Water Lane.” But always check the opening times on the website and there is a ‘phone number to ring to book onto a tour in advance at busier times.

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12 comments on “Woolsthorpe Manor : The Home of Genius

  1. Fran says:

    Very interesting to see this house. Years ago I read several books by American author Sarah Ban Breathnach. For a short while she lived here? Or is there a smaller building close by used by Newton as well? It is somewhere I have had on my list for years.

    • There was no mention of Sarah BB. The only other buildings on the site are outbuildings now used for the Science Centre, Cafe, Bookshop etc. Interestingly, the site is not remote but adjoins a housing estate. I don’t know what took me so long to actually make the detour.

  2. ms6282 says:

    Definitely need to sdd this one to my list. It’s a pity that Lincolnshire is so damned awkward to travel to from over here. Will need to, perhaps, organise a short break over there

  3. Hi Barbara, we stayed in Woolsthorpe-on-Belvoir 5th – 8th December. Didn’t get to the Manor as we were visiting the Lincoln Christmas Market. However as always, your Blog on your visit is very informative so next time we shall definitely visit. Rosanna

    • I noticed that it said on the NT site not to confuse the two so they can’t be far apart. I just missed you … I travelled to Suffolk on 4th. This would be an ideal diversion from the A1 for you travelling between the northeast and London, Rosanna. I hope you enjoyed the market. I think it was rained off last year. Merry Christmas to you both!

  4. dianabirchall says:

    Oh my HEAVENS Barbara! You have done me such a service. I now know that I MUST, SHALL, HAVE TO see this house on my next trip, no ifs ands and buts about it. Because I am descended from Newton’s family (not him directly as he was childless), but my great-grandfather passed on the story. Also this is exactly the kind of house (with a history) that I love to see, so: Thank you!

    • You will love it, Diana. I have to visit again as there was not enough time to see everything especially in the Science Centre. ALWAYS CHECK THE WEBSITE FOR OPENING TIMES IN ADVANCE OR WHEN PLANNING YOUR VISIT! I was very surprised, and pleased, that the house was open on a Monday in December.

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