Museum Talks

Talks available from the Cowper & Newton Museum

We have a range of talks we can give to your clubs & societies. Here are a few to get you started – but it is well worth having a chat with us as we are always developing new talks. 

Please request a Group Booking form for talk fees etc, from

All talks use PowerPoint slides and can be customised for a particular audience with sufficient notice.

The Lives of William Cowper & John Newton

This is the unlikely story of the friendship between William Cowper, the aristocratic, well-connected melancholic poet & favourite of Jane Austen, with the one time slave trader then abolitionist, evangelical Christian & author of Amazing Grace, the Reverend John Newton. This talk will form a good introduction to the stories that underpin the museum and exhibits.   Also recommended prior to a group visit.

Cowper Curiosities & Connexions

William Cowper was descended from royalty and his relatives were at the forefront of British    national life. He lived in north Buckinghamshire for 28 years and was the leading poet of the late 18th century; Jane Austen quoted and referenced William Cowper and his works in Persuasion, Mansfield Park, Emma and the unfinished Sanditon. He was an acute observer of everyday life and a prolific letter writer, communicating with many of the most significant figures of his day. His connexions offer a fascinating insight into national life 250 years ago.

Cowper’s Scandalous World - Bawdy Georgians

In the first era of mass media, paparazzi and celebrity, we examine the notorious Georgian high society. The particular focus is on changes in the situation of women and men in society over the period; marriage, divorce, disgrace and the political and social consequences for a scandalised nation. This talk is not for persons of gentle sensibility or a tendency to swoon.

Cowper & Newton – Slavery & Abolition

When he was young John Newton was a slave trader and later both he, and William Cowper, played significant roles in the slave trade’s abolition. This talk looks at their roles within the wider context of world slavery from the earliest times to the present day.

Olney: A Landscape History

This talk is an examination of the development of Olney within the context of the history of the region. We explore how, why and when the town formed, why it has the footprint it does, and why it looks as it does today.

Georgian Olney – A Time Travellers Guide

With a focus on the “long” 18th century this talk links Olney with the wider history of England in this transformative period, when the Industrial Revolution and Enlightenment began and the British Empire took shape. How would working people have lived and how does their world differ from today.

Tracing Your Lace Workers Ancestors

This is a family history talk which focus on the methods and sources available for tracing your ancestors who were involved in the lace trade. The talk will focus on Olney but many of the resources would be relevant to other areas.  Local names and some local individual stories will form part of the talk.

The Story of Lace

Olney is situated at the heart of ‘Lace Country’. This talk tells the story of the development of the lace industry in Olney and the surrounding area.  We describe the rise and fall of the local lace industry and also touch on the lives of the lacemakers and their employers. The focus is on the social history of the lace trade rather than the intricacies of individual pieces of lace.

This talk. can be adapted to focus on particular geographic areas.

The Lace School

Lace schools had their heyday towards the latter half of the 18th century and through into the 19th century. This talk will focus on the conditions and everyday life of the lace school and lace ‘tells’ or rhymes that were chanted by children.

A History of Olney

A look at the wider history of Olney, from before the Romans to the present day. A journey through significant events and people who lived in, documented and changed the town. This can be a single or double talk if more depth is required.

Item added to cart.
0 items - £0.00

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)