Sir Isaac Newton's descendant buys sapling from famous apple tree

A genius idea! Sir Isaac Newton’s descendant buys sapling from apple tree ‘which inspired scientist’s theory of gravity’… and reveals plan to plant it at the family’s cider farm

  • Giles Wood described buying the sapling as like securing a ‘family heirloom’

A descendant of Sir Isaac Newton has bought a sapling from the apple tree said to have inspired the theory of gravity so that he can grow it at the family’s cider farm.

Giles Wood, 68, from Dorset, bought the sapling at an auction held to raise money for Newton’s childhood home Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire. 

He described buying the sapling as like securing a ‘family heirloom’ and said that he will grow it at his farm in Beaminster, Dorset. 

Mr Wood said he and his two sons were descendants of Newton’s sister, Hannah, from his mother’s side. Newton himself did not have any children. 

Legend has it that Newton was sat under the tree when he was hit on the head by a falling apple, inspiring the law of gravity.

More than 350 years later Mr Wood has paid an undisclosed sum for the 3ft sapling taken from the famous tree at Newton’s childhood home. 

Giles Wood and his sons Rollo (left) and Bertie with the sapling in front of the Isaac Newton tree

Legend has it that Newton was sat under the tree when he was hit on the head by a falling apple, inspiring his law of gravity.

The National Trust, which runs the estate near Grantham, decided to hold a charity auction to sell 10 saplings from the tree, a Flower of Kent variety, one of which was bought by the Wood family. The auction raised more than £31,410. 

Mr Wood started making Isaac Cider with his sons, Bertie, 32, and Rollo, 30, three years ago.

Rather than adding it to their 40-acre orchard of trees, the family will grow the sapling next to their farm shop for customers and visitors to see.

Mr Wood plans to invite the head of physics at the local secondary school and his students to help with the planting ceremony.

It will have a plaque explaining the tree’s provenance and the family connection.

Mr Wood said: ‘We are very proud of our connection to Isaac Newton and for us this is like getting hold of a family heirloom.

‘By buying this sapling it will remain in our family forever, the same way our descendants are forever.

‘We have a farm shop and we are going to plant it very prominently so people can see it and ask questions about it and about Isaac Newton.’

Woolsthorpe Manor, home of Sir Isaac Newton

Giles Wood and his son Bertie with the cider that they have made

Bertie Wood samples the cider while tossing an apple

The sapling will be planted next spring and it will take four to five years to produce apples.

Isaac Newton was born at Woolsthorpe Manor in 1643. He returned there in 1666 when Cambridge University closed due to the plague. 

Mr Wood said: ‘I thought it was going to be a very small house with a rather ropey tree in the garden but it was magnificent. It was a moving moment to actually pick it up.’

The Wood family orchard produces around 75 tonnes of cider apples a year.

They used to sell them to major cider making companies until they sought cheaper imported apples and the demand fell away.

Rather than rip up the orchard, they began making their own cider from the apples which they sell direct to customers and local restaurants and shops.

They now sell about 35,000 bottles a year and have tipples named Calculus, Refraction, Anti-Gravity and Alchemy.

The artist-in-residence at Cambridge University’s Botanic Garden, Nabil Ali, has made ink from a clone of Newton’s apple tree, which fell during Storm Eunice last year.

Processing bark from the tree with medieval techniques, Ali created a golden-yellow ink which he calls ‘Newton’s Gold’.

The ink will be used to create an illustration of 68 apples – one for each year the tree stood before it fell.

After it fell during the storm, the tree’s wood was kept safely in storage, awaiting a creative way of putting it to good use.

A year later, Mr Ali had the idea to create an ink from the bark and use it to immortalise the beloved tree.

Mr Ali’s project, ‘DYE- nature, myth and, climate’, explores 14th to 16th century methods of creating natural dyes from plants. 

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