The Cromwell Association
Richard Cavendish visits an organisation dedicated to preserving the memory of Oliver Cromwell.
On January 30th, 1661, the twelfth anniversary of the execution of Charles I, the mouldering corpse of Oliver Cromwell, disinterred from Westminster Abbey, was hung up on public view at Tyburn. With it were the remains of two other regicides, Henry Ireton and John Bradshaw. At 4 o'clock in the afternoon their heads were taken off by the hangman. The bodies were thrown into a pit on the site. The heads were stuck on poles for display at Westminster Hall, where they stayed for twenty years and more, decomposing. Long afterwards the horrible object that had been the Lord Protector's head was given to his old Cambridge college, Sidney Sussex, which buried it near the chapel, without saying exactly where, in 1960.
The savagery with which Cromwell's mortal remains were treated extended also to his reputation. In the church of All Saints, Huntingdon, you can see the record of Oliver's birth and baptism in April 1599. Across it somebody angrily scrawled 'England's plague for five years'.