A Peek Inside Orchard Side House

What will you discover inside Orchard Side House?

Welcome to Orchard Side house, which from 1768 to 1786 was the home of William Cowper, renowned 18th century poet. Walk back in time through rooms featuring numerous personal artefacts and belongings. Discover William’s comic sense of humour, the highs and lows in his life and his love of gardening and animals  – especially his pet hares.

Discover how his friend John Newton’s life and personal experience inspired him to write the world’s most famous hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ here in Olney. Find out about his time as a slave ship captain, as a captive himself; how he became curate of the parish church, his involvement in the abolition of slavery and his spiritual influence on William Wilberforce.

The Kitchen

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.

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The Hall

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.

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The Parlour

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…

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William Cowper’s Bedroom

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

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Georgian Life

Georgian Life

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.

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lace maker

Lacemakers Room

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

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Now you can look around and explore inside three of our exhibition rooms in the museum, with our 360 degree views. Click here to view.

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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)