Sharing Culture Milton Keynes 2018

Sharing Culture MK is a collaborative events programme in celebration of our cultural heritage, new town stories and European connections.

The programme will run from June to October 2018 and there will be walks, talks, workshops, exhibitions, festivals and much more – engaging people in the Milton Keynes story. MK is home to some inspirational stories and Sharing Culture MK is all about telling these stories to the wider world…

Our designed New Town, created just 51 years ago, boasts a heritage that begins long before the first shovel was even put in the ground.  Pre-MK, our historic towns, villagesand areas of farm land were well known for their own heritage and today all contribute to the cultural identity and vibrancy of Milton Keynes.  Our stories include Captain Ridley’s Shooting Party, a group of people who moved into the Bletchley Park Mansion under the guise that they were a ‘Shooting Party’ but they were actually secret codebreakers working for MI6 and the Government; learn about Albert French, a teenage resident of Wolverton, who signed up to join the war effort in 1915 to “do his bit for King and Country”.  Hear about our world-renowned music, the hymn Amazing Grace was written by Rev John Newton and published in the book ‘Olney Hymns’ in 1779.  In MK’s more recent history, as the New Town was being planned much focus was put on making it a green, garden city and to safeguard our green spaces, in 1992 they were put in the care of The Parks Trust, an independent charity – a model now aspired to by other European planned towns.

The Home of Amazing Grace’: Olney and the Cowper and Newton Museum

In 1764 John Newton became Curate in charge of the church of St Peter & St Paul in Olney. Here he forged a friendship and partnership with the poet William Cowper who arrived in Olney 250 years ago in 1768.  Together, inspired by early hymn writers such as Isaac Watts & Charles Wesley, they began to write hymns for the parishioners which in 1779 were brought together & published as the ‘Olney Hymns’.  The hymn book has been reprinted often in Britain and around the world. 

Today the most famous hymn is ‘Faith’s review & expectation’ or as we know it ‘Amazing Grace’. The verses resonate with John’s own personal history as a participant in the transatlantic slave trade and a day when on 21st March 1748 aboard a badly stormed-damaged trading ship and fearing for his life he began his journey back to his faith: ‘Amazing grace! (How sweet the sound) That sav’d a wretch like me!’

Today people often turn to singing ‘Amazing Grace’ in times of optimism and promise but also in times of trial and sorrow.  There are over 3000 published recorded performances of the hymn from between the 1930s and 2000 in the Chasanoff/Elozua “Amazing Grace” Collection at the Library of Congress alone.

Events at Olney / Cowper and Netwon Museum

At Home with the Georgians 14th July 10.30am - 4pm
Cowper and Newton

Guided Walk around Olney - South End 22nd July 11am - 2.30pm Olney

Guided Walk to William Cowper's Alcove

5th August 10am - 12.30pm Olney

Guided Walk Around Olney - North East 26th August 11am - 12.30pm

Family Poetry Afternoon at Cowper and newton Museum 23rd September 12pm - 3.30pm Cowper and Newton Museum

Olney Spookey Walk at Night

14th December 7.30pm - 9pm


A Green City: The Parks Trust

The Parks Trust is an independent charity that cares for over 6,000 acres of parkland and green space in Milton Keynes.  It was established by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation in 1992 to own and manage the green and open space in Milton Keynes. This unique model has proved hugely successful, with other councils and even countries visiting the city for inspiration and advice, and Milton Keynes’ green space continuing to thrive despite the economic downturn that has impacted authorities elsewhere.

Today, The Parks Trust looks after river valleys, woodlands, parks and landscaped roadside areas that represent 25% of the city and continues to take ownership of additional areas of green space as Milton Keynes expands. All of its work is funded through its commercial property, its investments and various enterprises on its parkland.  

The Parks Trust animate and welcome people into the spaces they look after through outdoor learning opportunities, leisure and recreation facilities for all to enjoy whatever their age or ability, and a diverse programme of cultural events and activities including public art.  They offer everything from regular events such as Women’s Walking Network and Tree Tots, through to larger, festival-style events such as World Picnic and Festival of Nature.

Events at The Parks Trust

Family Open Air Theatre 1st July 3pm Campbell Park Canel Side

African Diaspora 6th - 7th July Campbell Park Canel Side

MK Festival of Nature 7th - 14th July Across MK

Friends of the Caribbean Cricket Fun Day 22nd July Campbell Park

World Picnic 29th July 1pm - 6pm Campbell Park

Sharing Culture MK is a collaborative programme co-ordinated by MK Council. Sharing Culture MK supports the European Commission initiative, European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH).

The European Commission have developed this initiative to promote cultural diversity, dialogue and social cohesion, whilst also highlighting the economic contribution of cultural heritage.

To find out what’s on and see how to get involved, please see:

T @CultureMK / #SharingCultureMK #HeritageforFuture


LOGOS: European Year of Cultural Heritage / MK Council  / European Commission / Destination mk

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