Woolsthorpe Manor and Sir Isaac Newton

Having spent a weekend in Kent, I’m now back in Lincolnshire for some time with my family. Yesterday we spent a very enjoyable day visiting Woolsthorpe Manor, near Grantham, the 1642 birthplace of the famous English physicist and mathematician, Sir Isaac Newton.
Woolsthorpe_Manor
I found Woolsthorpe Manor very interesting. In each room were guides who had extensive knowledge of Isaac Newton, his family, his studies and discoveries. His most important experiments concerning light and optics, and gravity were made here during 1666-7, when he returned from his studies in Cambridge, due to an outbreak of plague. Although not original, the manor is furnished like any 17th century farmhouse would have been. Outside is the apple orchard, where Newton is believed to have noticed the apple falling, that led to his investigations in the field of gravity. A barn in the farmyard has been converted to a cafe and science discovery centre, with hands-on exhibits, experimenting with light, gravity and motion, and view the internal workings of a reflecting telescope – which were all great fun. I particularly enjoyed the room above the cafe which had work stations experimenting with glass prisms, changing colours in bubbles, and reversing reflections. My nephew Jacob (13) said, ‘I liked the hands on experiments in the discovery centre and the inventions of Isaac Newton’s. And about his theories which have been advanced in our time.’
Newton’s father, a yeoman sheep-farmer, died before he was born, so his mother Hannah managed the farm. She must have done a good job, as during her time in control, the farm extended from 200 to 500 acres. This gave Newton the time and resources to continue his studies, to become one of the most influential scientists of all time, and a pivotal figure of the scientific revolution. Newton was certainly a genius, and nearly four hundred years on, he is still regarded as such. But I have to ask myself how may more men – or indeed women –  from the lower, and working classes, would have become geniuses, had there not been the overwhelming need to earn money for food and shelter, and the biological need for reproduction.

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