Legend has it that an apple which fell from its branches was the inspiration for Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity.
But now history’s most celebrated fruit tree is paying the price of fame.
The thousands of visitors drawn to Sir Isaac’s childhood home each year could be damaging the roots. And in an effort to ensure it keeps flourishing, a willow barrier has been put around the tree.
It means visitors to the 17th century Woolsthorpe Manor, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, will no longer be able to sit under its branches as Newton was said to have been doing in 1665 when ‘the notion of gravitation came to mind’.
The National Trust, which owns the small manor house where Newton was born in 1642, said the 2ft-high fence was designed to preserve the tree, not exclude visitors.
Official Ann Moynihan said there had been no damage so far but warned that there could soon be a problem.
‘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 said the tree – which re-rooted itself in 1820 after being blown down in a storm and grew back in an ‘inverted S-shape’ – was already difficult to get close to because of its shape.
‘People have always been free to walk around the apple orchard unescorted,’ she added.
‘We just want to preserve the tree for another 400 years if we can.’ She said visitors will still be able to take apples from the tree.
Visitor and history graduate Chris Gwyther, 37, said: ‘I suppose it is a pity that you can’t sit under the tree like Newton.
‘But you can still see it and the tree is 400-years-old, it needs saving for the future.’
The tree is of the rare Flower of Kent variety, a green cooking apple. It stands in the front garden of the property and is visible from what was Newton’s bedroom window.
Newton left no account confirming he had been inspired by a falling apple. The story appeared in a book by French philosopher Voltaire published in 1727, the year Newton died at the age of 84.
2011-05-13 11:46 编辑：juliatt
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