William Cowpers Summerhouse

I have a day free of Jury Service, so I am researching the letters of William Cowper for a display in June this year. He describes his summer house, which you can still see in the garden of what is now the Cowper and Newton Museum in Olney.


LXIV. 25 June 1785. To Joseph Hill.


Cowper’s Summer House in the Garden of the Cowper and Newton Museum, Olney.

My Dear Friend,

I write in a nook that I call my Boudoir. It is a summerhouse not much bigger than a sedan chair, the door of which opens into the garden, that is now crowded with pinks, roses and honey-suckles, and the window into my neighbour’s orchard.

It formerly served an apothecary, now dead, as a smoking-room; and under my feet is a trap-door, which once covered a hole in the ground, where he kept his bottles. At present, however, it is dedicated to sublime uses. Having lined it with garden mats, and furnished it with a table and two chairs, here I write all that I write in the summer-time, whether to my friends or to the public. It is secure from all noise, and a refuge from all intrusion; for intruders sometimes trouble me in the winter evenings at Olney. But (thanks to my Boudoir) I can now hide myself from them. A poet’s retreat is sacred.’


Are the pieces of pipe the debris from the time that the Apothecary used the house for a smoking-room?


I am a garden historian, but a practical one. I resarch how gardening was carried out in the past, rather than just researching gardens. It can be very interesting. Some things that I learn seem to be rather unbelievable. Some other methods are still very practical. Visit my web site- www.historicgardener.co.uk

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Posted in Historic Gardener. Gardening-Horticulture

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