Cowper & Newton Museum explores the enduring friendship of William Cowper and John Newton in the town where they lived and collaborated, notably creating the hymn Amazing Grace.
Housed in Orchard Side House, William Cowper’s home from 1768-86, the museum provides an insight into the life and work of this popular poet, hailed as an early Romantic pioneer. Aspects of his home life such as his love of animals and gardening had a huge impact on his writing, and personal artefacts and objects paint of picture of his world.
Explore the Viper Barn where Cowper wrote his famous poem The Colubriad (written 1782, published 1806), the historic kitchen, the grand hall, the parlour overlooking the bustling marketplace, Cowper’s personal bedroom, and the lace room, which tells the story of Olney’s important lace makers whose work Cowper and Newton supported.
William Cowper and John Newton’s enduring relationship began with a shared faith, and Newton came to be curate of St Peter & St Paul in the town of Olney, the setting where these two friends collaborated on the creation of many famous hymns, including Amazing Grace. The museum also tells the important story of the slave trade in the 18th century and the abolitionist movement, which Newton moved to support later in his life, following his time as a slave trader and ship captain himself.
Pictures, objects, books and manuscripts tell the tale of Newton’s time in Olney, growing his congregation and composing many hymns, and there are rooms dedicated to Georgian life and stories from the local community. The museum also boasts a gorgeous garden filled with year-round plants and the Three Hares Gallery on the top floor, regularly exhibiting work of local artists working in a range of mediums.