- Giles Wood described purchasing the seedling as securing a “family heirloom”
A descendant of Sir Isaac Newton bought a sapling of the apple tree that is said to have inspired the theory of gravity so he could grow it on the family cider farm.
Giles Wood, 68, from Dorset, bought the sapling at auction to raise money for Newton’s childhood home, Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire.
He described buying the seedling as securing a “family heirloom” and said he would grow it on his farm in Beaminster, Dorset.
Mr Wood said he and his two sons were descendants of Newton’s sister Hannah on his mother’s side. Newton himself had no children.
Legend has it that Newton was sitting under the tree when he was hit in the head by a falling apple, inspiring the law of gravity.
More than 350 years later, Mr Wood paid an undisclosed sum for the 90cm sapling taken from the famous tree in 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 sitting under the tree when he was hit in the head by a falling apple, which inspired his law of gravity.
The National Trust, which manages the estate near Grantham, decided to hold a charity auction to sell ten saplings of 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 three years ago with his sons Bertie, 32, and Rollo, 30.
Rather than adding it to their 40-acre orchard, the family will grow the seedling next to their farm shop for customers and visitors to see.
Mr Wood plans to invite the head of the local secondary school’s physics department and his students to help with the planting ceremony.
There will be a plaque explaining the origin of the tree and the family connection.
Mr Wood said: “We are very proud of our association with Isaac Newton and for us this is like a family heirloom.”
“By purchasing this seedling, it will remain in our family forever, just like our descendants forever.”
“We have a farm shop and will plant it very prominently so people can see it and ask questions about it and Isaac Newton.”
Woolsthorpe Manor, home of Sir Isaac Newton
Giles Wood and his son Bertie with the cider they made
Bertie Wood tastes the cider while throwing an apple
The seedling will be planted next spring and 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 was closed due to the plague.
Mr Wood said: “I thought it was going to be a very small house with quite a 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 annually.
They used to sell them to large cider makers until they looked for cheaper imported apples and demand waned.
Instead of tearing down the orchard, they began making their own cider from the apples, which they sold directly to customers as well as local restaurants and stores.
They now sell about 35,000 bottles a year and have drinks called Calculus, Refraction, Anti-Gravity and Alchemy.