Olney is the “Home of Amazing Grace” and the famous pancake race – and now a vibrant, bustling community lives in this Georgian Market Town. It is situated a short drive from the centre of Milton Keynes, Bedford and Northampton but attracts visitors from a wide area. Here, we list some of the things which make for an enjoyable itinerary: with thanks to Paul Collins for suggestions.
- Start with a coffee or breakfast, with the huge array of places listed here.
- Explore Olney’s rich heritage. Relive the Georgian past by visiting the Cowper & Newton Museum
housed in the building and gardens where William Cowper the poet, letter-writer,
gardener, and animal lover lived from 1768 – 1786. Learn about his close friendship with
John Newton, a seafarer and slave ship captain turned preacher who was a curate in
Olney from 1764 – 1780 and how they wrote the famous “Olney Hymns” including John
Newton’s “Amazing Grace.”
- Wandering the high street, it is hard to reconcile this with the town’s impoverished past as a centre of
lace-making. At the 14th Century Church of St Peter and St Paul, you can see a 200ft spire, with a ring of ten bells dominates the skyline as you approach from the south. Explore the churchyard to find John Newton’s grave – his second resting place!
- Pause to refresh yourself at one of the many cafes, pubs, and restaurants situated along
one of the widest High Street’s in England, around the market place, and down its myriad
of little alleyways.
- Whilst exploring you will encounter a variety of independently owned speciality shops including. You can even buy an Aston Martin!
- The weekly market on Thursday and local Farmer’s market on the first Sunday of the month add a further buzz to the town. In spring and summer, the town is decorated with stunning floral displays for the enjoyment of all.
- The river Ouse (once the border between Saxon and Danish England) offers a delightful
riverside walk whilst nearby Emberton Park offers lakeside walks, children’s play areas,
fishing, boating and camping facilities.
- Annual events include the Pancake Race on Shrove Tuesday, the Cherry Fair in June, raft
and duck races as well as a Motorama event in July, the Big Olney food festival (BOFF)
in September, a spectacular firework display in November and the Dickens of a
Christmas Victorian Christmas Fair and craft show in December. All are enjoyable events
for the whole family.
- Free parking throughout and easy access from Northampton, Wellingborough, Bedford,
Milton Keynes, and the M1 make Olney a great place to visit.
- The night life, with our wonderful variety of pubs and restaurants keeps the place bustling into the evening.