William Cowper

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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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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A Letter Cabinet

Cowper is renowned for his letters. Here we look at his ‘filing cabinet’, the paper, pens and ink he used, and the postal system he depended upon. A personalised letter cabinet Our cabinet operates as a filing system for Cowper’s correspondence. It hangs on the wall of his one-time parlour,

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Cowper’s fashion accessories

Here we focus on a few small items of dress, carefully chosen by Cowper to present himself creditably to the world. We begin with a buckle Cowper used to pin a fine linen neckcloth (called a stock) firmly round his neck.  These were definitely part of a gentleman’s attire, and

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Cowper’s Pocket Watch – a Musical Movement with Bassoon

William Cowper’s pocket watch, gifted to him by his cousin Theodora, has inspired a  new piece of music for bassoon by composer Lara Poe. Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibition (RÊVE) is a project and website which showcases and shares Romantic texts, objects, and places through collaborations between academic researchers, museums,

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The Electrifying Machine

Surprisingly, William Cowper owned and operated an electric shock machine, and used it to treat Mrs Unwin after her second stroke in 1792.  It consisted of a large glass cylinder, a wooden disc and turning handle, a Leyden Jar, a ferocious-looking metal tube with spikes and knobs, as well as

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Cowper’s spaniel, Beau

So familiar is the depiction of Cowper in terms of the three male hares that he reared and kept as pets, Puss, Bess and Tiney, that this frontispiece to an early and extensively illustrated book devoted to Cowper’s Olney may well come as something of a surprise. It shows a

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William Cowper’s Missing Will

Since the start of the COVID pandemic, the National Archives at Kew has allowed free downloads of digital records from its website, a concession which will continue for as long as it’s only able to open for a very limited number of researchers. Seizing the opportunity, Trustee Amanda Molcher came

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The Cowper & Newton Story Begins – 250 years

The Road to Olney – The Cowper & Newton Story @ 250 We are often asked how William Cowper and John Newton came to meet up in Olney.  So in 2017, the 250th anniversary of William taking up residence in Olney, we tracked back through all their correspondence and had

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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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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)