The tree that helped Sir Isaac Newton realise the theory of gravity has been cordoned off from invasive visitors.
Due to its popularity, the number of people wanting to sit beneath the famous apple tree has raised cause for concern. A willow fence has been erected around the tree which is located in the garden of the influential scientist’s childhood home near Grantham in Lincolnshire. Newton was believed to be sat beneath the tree in 1665, when an apple fell on his head, inspiring his notion of gravitation.
The National Trust, who now own the house has built the fence around the tree in a bid to preserve it for longer as although there is no sign of any damage yet, they believe that the constant stream of visitors could begin to harm the trees roots.
Spokesperson for the National Trust, Ann Moynihan stated “Visitor numbers have gone up by around 50 per cent, to 33,000 a year in three years. The more people who visit, the more the soil will become compacted around the tree and over the roots.” She added that the 2 foot fence has not been built for health and safety reasons or to exclude visitors. “People have always been free to walk around the apple orchard unescorted” she continued, and confirmed that people will still be able to take apples from the tree.
In 1820 the tree was nearly lost forever after a storm blew it down, however the roots re-attached themselves and the tree grew back in an inverted ‘S’ shape, making it quite difficult to sit beneath anyway.
Recent visitors to the site agreed that they were disappointed not to be able to sit underneath it but protecting it for future generations was the most important thing.
The tree sits in the front garden of the 17th century, Woolsthorpe Manor, is visible from what was a young Newton’s bedroom window, and bears the rare Flower of Kent variety of green cooking apple.
Despite the interest and fascinating scientific history surrounding the tree, Sir Isaac Newton never actually confirmed that the incident ever took place; instead the story appeared in a book written by French philosopher Voltaire, published in 1727, the year Newton died.