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.

http://www.cowperandnewtonmuseum.org.uk/

LXIV. 25 June 1785. To Joseph Hill.

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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.’

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

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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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