What will you discover inside Orchardside House?

The Kitchen

You enter through the kitchen, just as in Cowper’s day, making sure his pet hares, Tiney, Bess & Puss, do not escape through the front door which opens onto Market Place…

The Hall

The ‘family room’ where you find out about William and his family, including the mystery of the hinged frame from William’s portrait by Lemuel Abbott, as well as the fame of his pet hares.

The Parlour

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…

John Newton Room

The John Newton Room tells the story of John’s life as curate of St Peter & St Paul Church in Olney and of his hymn, ‘Amazing Grace’.

William Cowper’s Bedroom

Often a place to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life in the house, this is where William wrote the popular poem ‘The Diverting History of John Gilpin’.

Mrs Unwin’s Bedroom

Find out about Mary Unwin, William’s companion, his friendships with Lady Ann Austen, William Hayley and the Rev. William Bull of Newport Pagnell.

Olney History Room

This room displays antiquarian finds and historical artifacts from the local area – fossils, pottery, leather industry, shops and the lace industry.

The Lace Room

This room demonstrates the importance of lace to the local area, how William & John supported the lacemakers, and displays of Buckinghamshire & Bedfordshire lacemaking.

Viper Barn & Courtyard

Don’t miss: The stone carving from the ‘Lace Factory’, the barn where William encountered the Viper which inspired him to write his mock heroic poem ‘The Columbriad’ …

Some of the exhibits you will encounter during your tour

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