Even allowing for some romanticising on the part of raconteur and reporter, it was a gripping tale and certainly helped to increase the flow of cash into Mr Robinson’s fund. Mr Olley further recalled how he was nursed by Florence Nightingale at Scutari (he was certainly taken to hospital there) and then, on his return to England, was presented to the Queen at Brompton Barracks in March 1855 when she visited the wounded there in company with Prince Albert and the Duke of Cambridge, who had commanded a division in the Crimea and who commented, apparently, on Olley's 'miraculous escape'. Her Majesty seems to have been somewhat overcome by the occasion for she asked Olley whether he would like to go back again. He replied in suitably patriotic vein, and was pleased to receive when he got home 'a present of stockings, cuffs, scarves and mittens from the Queen'. Again, as he must have been one of the prize occupants of the Barracks, all this is quite possible, even likely, and with these five wounds and a lost eye, the scars of which he took to the grave, it does seem a little less than just that a new book, Casualty Roll for the Crimea, should refer to him as having been 'wounded slightly'!
And so, thirty three years after his discharge from the army, James Olley, by now a local celebrity, came to Holt. He trained horses for the local gentry, including Lord Hastings and Sir Alfred Jodrell of Bayfield Hall, and had his stables in Church Street where the public library is now situated and which had been the stables of Wansbeck House behind Hubbard's.
He was a regular at the Bull (now a baker's shop almost opposite the Cottage Boutique) and in the yard at the rear would prove his considerable strength by throwing two 56lb weights over his shoulders a distance of over 13 feet. This legendary exercise he could still perform at the age of seventy. He had an aggressive nature, and would return regularly from the annual horse-traders' fair on Aldborough Green with plenty of bruises to testify to his pugilistic encounters behind the tents. But this fiery side to his character was reserved for two-footed creatures only. He was, as his obituary testified, 'a great lover of animals who ruled his horses with kindness'.