Local History

The Olney World Famous Pancake Race

No one really knows the origins of the world famous Pancake Race at Olney, but it is a long and loved tradition in the town. Within the Museum collection are two hand bells.  One is fragile and retired but the other still rings out loudly to start the race. This

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The Olney Militia

During the 18th century the regular army was constantly under strain from actions abroad such as the wars in North America and combatting Napoleon’s expansion plans in Europe. It became the role of the Militia to defend the Kingdom from invasion and release army units for service abroad. Their role

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Poor Laws – The Roundsman System

Within the Poor Laws records in the Museum Archive there is also a small book which gives insights into the Roundsman system of poor relief. Appointment of Overseers 1783 There have always been poor people who needed help or charity to survive. Before King Henry VIII seized all the monasteries

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Poor Laws & Workhouses

In 1900, the then newly opened Cowper Memorial Museum was given twelve Overseers of the Poor ledger books. They cover the period 1744 to 1820 and relate to the ‘Poor Laws’ in operation in Olney and the surrounding villages.  Thanks to a very generous donation, nine of these books have

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OLNEY & DISTRICT HISTORY SOCIETY

Olney & District Historical Society (ODHS) was founded in 1997 by a group of like-minded people determined to keep Olney history alive for all generations of people in the town and for those who have since moved away. The Society closed at the end of 2019 and terminated its visits to

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William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, 1731-1801

William Cowper and John Newton are the most famous residents of Olney, but William Legge, the 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, is probably the most significant non-resident figure in Olney history.. In 1755 he married Frances Nicholls daughter to Charles Gunter (or Gounter) Nicholls, who had been MP for Peterborough. 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 Expectations’ . It was published by John in

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Three Hares Gallery

The Three Hares Art Gallery

The Three Hares Gallery is located on the top floor of the Museum building and holds monthly exhibitions.  Previous exhibitions have included artists who work in watercolours, acrylics, oils, pastels, drawings, prints, photography, ceramics, woodcraft and textiles, including felt, patchwork and tapestries. Sadly, due to Coronavirus safety measures, the Gallery is currently only open to

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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)