Olney, at the very north of the county of Buckinghamshire, retains its old world charm despite an increase in population due to the expansion of nearby Milton Keynes.
Olney is famous for its pancake race run on Shrove Tuesday from the market place to the parish church of St Peter and St Paul, whose lofty 180 ft spire is a well known landmark. The popular hymn Amazing Grace was written by John Newton, the ex-slave trader, when curate of Olney as part of the Olney Hymns, in conjunction with the poet William Cowper who lived here from 1767 to 1786.
The poet's house on the market place is now a museum containing the artifacts of Cowper and Newton as well as housing a collection of hand-made pillow lace, once an important cottage industry here, but now revived as a hobby/craft.
Today Olney has become the sort of place people like to wander around for an afternoon out. It has numerous antique shops, reproduction furniture showrooms, a good bookshop as well as the museum.

Article written by members of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes for the publication "The Buckinghamshire Village Book" (1987) and reproduced here with their permission