What will you discover inside Orchard Side House?
Start your visit in the newly renovated Viper Barn where William encountered the Viper which inspired him to write his mock heroic poem ‘The Columbriad.
The main entrance to the Museum is through the kitchen, just as it so often was when Cowper & Mrs Unwin lived here. John Newton also used this route, taking a short cut from his home via the garden at the Vicarage.
To the sound of the gentle tick and chime of the grandfather clock step into the Hall to be introduced to William and his family. Don’t miss the secret of the hinged frame to William’s portrait by Lemuel Abbott or how his pet hares became famous.
The Parlour, with a window onto the Market Place, was the social hub of the house; a place to write, meet with family and friends and drink tea. ‘Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast, Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round…
Charting John Newton’s childhood, experiences at sea, participation in the slave trade & courtship of Polly. Explore how a storm at sea affected his life & his journey from slave ship captain to abolitionist.
William Cowper’s Bedroom – Greatcoats to waistcoats, shoe buckles to day caps, depression & fame … Take a glimpse into the 18th century life of a foremost poet, letter writer & translator of Homer
A new room dedicated to John Newton’s life in Olney as curate of St Peter & St Paul. With his friend Cowper, they wrote hymns for the people of Olney – the most famous today being ‘Amazing Grace’
Learn more about the lives of rich and poor in Olney, from the finery of Cowper’s friend, Lady Austen to the poverty of the lacemakers and the lives behind the names in the Poor Law records. with displays of original objects.
From the late 16th to the late 19th century Olney was a lace-making town. Trace the development of this cottage industry through old pictures, photographs & examples of beautiful hand-made lace
Some of the exhibits you will encounter during your tour
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