Created By: ODHS
The United Reformed Church is situated next to the Carlton Club and set back a little from the High Street.
In 1762 the Independent Chapel was built on the site. Just above the door is an oval tablet to Ebenezer Abraham, the clockmaker. At that time there were several clockmaking businesses in the town of which Ebenezer Abraham was probably the best known.
This chapel was taken down in 1879, and was replaced in 1880 by a much improved and attractive building. At the same time the opportunity presented itself of securing a frontage to the street by purchasing the cottage that blocked the earlier chapel (see the rear yard on the image of the original chapel). The remains of the cottage are clearly visible on the house wall next door (No. 44), above Millward’s Entry . The new chapel was renamed as the Cowper Memorial Congregational Church . It is now known as the Cowper Memorial United Reformed Church.
A relatively recent local historian commented that ‘it seems extraordinary that in spite of all the poverty, that was widespread in Olney for so many years, the chapels of the Independents were constantly improved. In more recent times even when this Church was gutted by fire in the 1960s, it was restored and in use again in a very short time’ (see recent image above).
The size of the places of worship in this town is surprising – for hundreds of years the population was under three thousand, so you can’t imagine that anyone had any difficulty in finding a seat!
In passing, it is worth noting that Millward’s Entry (next door) is one of the two remaining public passages from the High Street to East Street, the other being Fountain Court. Millward's Entry is the primary route for pedestrians to access Olney's extensive sports facilities in East Street.
And again, walk a few metres further down the street until you arrive at the Lace Factory.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Olney High Street - Heritage Trail