Museum History

Bobbins and Lacemaking

Here we focus on a nineteenth-century lace bobbin. Or at least, we’ll start with one bobbin and then look at a few others. This will allow us to peep at the varied work – sometimes fancy, sometimes very basic – coaxed into being by the requirements of this simple lacemaking

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William Cowper’s Writing Slope

A box, but a very special box.   It is Cowper’s portable writing box, which opens up to become a miniature desk.   This ‘writing slope’, to give it its correct designation, dates from around 1790.   It was part of a collection of Cowper memorabilia that had passed by descent to the

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Olney Church & John Newton

In 1893, the Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society published an article in ‘Records of Buckinghamshire’ titled ‘Olney Church’. BAS has kindly allowed us to reproduce their article here. We have updated the 1893 article by adding further information and sources from the Cowper & Newton Museum Collection. What might the Church of

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Handkerchiefs and their ‘flirty’ language

Today we casually toss away our used tissues into a waste bin. If you lived in Georgian times handkerchiefs and their flirty language were the height of fashion. Handkerchiefs were both an ostentatious demonstration of wealth and a means of communicating with the person of your desire. So how did

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John Newton Dissenting Minister

In 1893, the Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society published an article in ‘Records of Buckinghamshire’ which contained an image of a page from ‘The Monthly Review.’ It was of interest to the Society because on the page William Cowper had ‘marked his disapprobation’ to a critic’s comment in six lines of poetry.

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The Reinterment of John Newton 1893

The reinterment of the remains of the Rev John Newton and his wife, Mary Newton, took place at the church of St Peter & St Paul, Olney on the 25th January 1893.  Many newspapers reported on this event, as did the Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society in their publication ‘Records of Buckinghamshire’. 

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Honouring the Hares

Cowper’s three hares – Puss, Tiney and Bess – soon became an integral part of his life story and have remained so. Two of the earliest representations of them appear on a three-seal fob and a snuff box, both on display in the museum. The seal fob dates from the

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The History of My Three Hares

The most detailed account of Cowper’s pet hares is contained in a letter he sent to The Gentleman’s Magazine.  It was published in the June 1784 issue, and listed rather prosaically on the contents page as ‘Unnoticed properties of the Hare’.  (In the same issue is a description of ‘Experiments

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Newton’s Straw-work Box

  We discuss here the materials and design of a straw-work box dating from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century.  It belonged to the Reverend John Newton, Curate of St Peter and St. Paul Church, Olney from 1764 to 1779. The box – an overview The box is a

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A lavender water bottle

Our examination of this small bottle prompts reflections on perfumes, herbal remedies, gardening and the English weather. It was given to Wordsworth after Cowper’s death. The Wordsworth connection William Wordsworth (1770-1850) admired Cowper’s work, and was influenced by it.  In a letter of 22 December 1814, he wrote: ‘…with the

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At The Museum

A Peek Inside Orchard Side House

Take a peek inside Orchard Side House as we begin to unveil some of our hidden secrets. Visit the ‘Welcome’ page for a short guide to the other delights we have in store for you during your visit.

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Page from the first edition of the Olney Hymns hymn book showing the first verse of Faith's Review and Expectation now known by its first line as Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace & The Olney Hymns ‘to my dear friends in the parish and neighbourhood of Olney, for whose use the hymns were originally composed;…’ Did you know? ‘Amazing Grace’ was penned by the Rev John Newton during his time here in Olney. ‘Amazing Grace’ was originally titled ‘Faith’s Review and Expectation’ . It was published by John in

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The Three Hares Art Gallery

The Three Hares Gallery is located on the top floor of the Museum building and holds monthly exhibitions, it is now in a bigger, brighter space with state of the art CCTV security and direct stair access from our Shop.  Since 2007 our exhibitions have included artists who work in watercolours, acrylics, oils, pastels, drawings,

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Summer-house-garden-2016mpn

Flower & Summer House Gardens

Visit our tranquil & historic Gardens. William Cowper was an innovative gardener at a time when seeds & plants were arriving from North America. Find out more here, including a plan of the gardens.

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Book Museum Tickets

Our Museum building remains CLOSED.  We are opening our gardens on limited entry.  The Cowper & Newton Museum gardens will be open to welcome you on Wednesday 5th August 10.30 – 12.15 and Saturday 8th August 10.30 – 12.15

(Follow our social media accounts or check back here for further opening days & times as they become available)