Sunday, 25 August 2013

Olney. The Cowper and Newton Museum.

What's so special about this place you might ask? Well, it's a place of memory for the 18th century poet William Cowper and his friend John Newton. Both have written some beautiful verses which you may know i.e. There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood and Amazing Grace respectively. 

  1. Amazing Grace

  2. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me!
    I once was lost, but now am found;
    Was blind, but now I see.
  3. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
    And grace my fears relieved;
    How precious did that grace appear
    The hour I first believed.
  4. Through many dangers, toils and snares,
    I have already come;
    ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
    And grace will lead me home.
  5. The Lord has promised good to me,
    His Word my hope secures;
    He will my Shield and Portion be,
    As long as life endures.
  6. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
    And mortal life shall cease,
    I shall possess, within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace.
  7. The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
    The sun forbear to shine;
    But God, who called me here below,
    Will be forever mine.
  8. When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
    Bright shining as the sun,
    We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
    Than when we’d first begun.
  9. John Newton

It is William Cowper's house in Olney, Buckinghamshire that is now The Cowper and Newton Museum. It has a lovely walled Georgian flower and kitchen garden around the back.

Both Cowper and Newton collaborated to produce what's known as the Olney Hymns first published in February 1779. Copies of the hymn book are available for purchase in the museum shop.

I was so engrossed with the house. (Me outing myself: I have a fondness for English period romances. This house certainly gave me an insight on how the characters would have lived so long ago). It was transporting to say the least. 

It is not too difficult to imagine what life would have been like all those years ago. Though one can only wonder how they managed cooking in a cauldron over a wood fire in a large fireplace (so large you could almost walk right into it). The rooms were small but well-appointed if somewhat bare. The floor sloped and creaked alarmingly in some places so it is well-worth being careful to tread lightly while walking through the house. 

There are different parts in the museum which highlight the lives of Cowper and Newton as well as their close circle of friends. There is even a section on lace-making, one of the things Olney is famous for (other than the Pancake Race). 

There are no photos of the Museum itself as I wasn't sure if I was allowed to take any and forgot to ask. Here are some photos of the gardens.

I was lucky enough to be in Olney to visit the museum. Olney is another one of those picturesque little jewels hidden in the English countryside. If I didn't go to visit my friends in Traka, I would have missed it completely. You'll be surprised just how many English people don't know Olney even exists.

The one night I was there was spent in The Lindens. It's owned and run by a lovely lady named Virginia, who makes a proper English Breakfast (very important!). It's a gorgeous old house with an equally gorgeous garden around the back.     

In the evening we went for a drink at the pub next to The Lindens and then to dinner at The Swan Inn. The food was excellent. I had a tomato and mozzarella salad garnished with olives and basil, which was delicious. Then came the chargrilled lamb with a hazelnut crust which was equally good. The quality of food at The Swan rivals that of the high-end restaurants at home. Even the wine I had by the glass was a nice one.   

I had a lovely time in Olney. It's one of the best times I've ever had in England. Thank you Godfrey and Steve for making it special. I'd had a tiring start to the week and this mid-week delight was so perfect.

As I finish this post, I'd like to leave you with one of my favourite hymns. I enjoy playing this on the organ in church and its words never fail to cut through my heart... in a good way.

There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;
And there have I though vile as he, washed all my sins away;
Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;
And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power;
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more;
Be saved to sin no more, be saved to sin no more;
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more.

E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I'll sing Thy power to save;
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

Lord, I believe Thou has prepared, unworthy though I be;
For me a blood bought free reward, a golden harp for me!
'Tis strung and tuned for endless years, and formed by power divine;
To sound in God the Father's ears no other name but Thine.

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