A pleasant little town on the Great Ouse, in north Buckinghamshire. Once an important lace making centre. The town's buildings are a mixture of new and old. The heart of the town is its Market Place, facing which is a red-brick Georgian mansion housing the The Cowper & Newton Museum.
The 14th-c parish church of St Peter and St Paul is one of the county's finest churches. Its spire dominates the countryside, rising some 185ft high. The famous hymn writer John Newton was curate here and his pulpit is still visible. A stained-glass window depicts his friend, and local poet, William Cowper.
The famous annual Shrove
Tuesday pancake races have
been run in Olney since 1445.
The course runs 415 yards, from the Market Place to the parish church. Entrants must successfully flip their pancakes three times during the race. The best known race is run by the ladies of Olney. It is said to have been started by a woman busy making pancakes, who on hearing the chapel bells ran to the church with frying pan still in hand. The winner receives a prayer book and a kiss from the sexton.
Tells the story of the Olney Hymns, written by the poet William Cowper (1731-1800) and the sailor John Newton (1725-1807) - a transformed slave trader who later became the curate of Olney. The Olney Hymns include "Hark my soul it is the Lord", "God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform", "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds", "Glorious things of thee are spoken" and the most famous of them all, "Amazing Grace". The museum, which is located in Cowper's 18th-c house, also has displays covering the town's historic lace-making trade.
Opening times: - Admission Charge/Free Entry
Location: Orchard Side, Market Pl, Olney
Tel: 01234 711516