Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 1997-12 > 0882310860
From: "Blair, Karen" <>
Subject: RE: Cromwell's Corpse
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 17:21:00 -0500
The following is from "An Underground Education: The Unauthorized and
Outrageous Supplement to Everything You Thought You Knew About Art, Sex,
Business, Crime, Science, Medicine, and Other Fields of Human Knowledge"
by Richard Zacks, published by Doubleday, 1997:
"Unholy Relics: Cromwell's Head
In 1660, when the monarchy was restored, Cromwell's body was dug up and
publicly beheaded, and the former Lord Protector's head was placed on a
spike on Westminster Hall. It remained there, haggard, bearded, for
twenty years, an object lesson for anyone thinking of killing a king.
In the late 1700s, the Russell family ran a small museum, with the
zealot's dome as centerpiece. In 1814, one Josiah Henry Wilkinson bought
the piece for (pounds)230 and started lugging it for show-and-tell at
parties. A letter from a woman who attended one of those parties has
survived. "Mr. Wilkinson its present possessor doats on it," wrote Maria
Edgeworth, "a frightful skull it is--covered with parched yellow skin
like any other mummy and with its chestnut hair, eyebrows and beard in
glorious preservation--the head is still fastened to a pole."
Ms. Edgeworth describes how the guests took turns standing at the window
holding it. She notes she could still see "a cut of the axe" on the back
of the head made by the "bungling executioner" and that "one ear has
been torn off as it should be." But the final proof that this was truly
Cromwell was "the famous wart of Oliver's" over the left eye.
Cromwell finally left the party circuit for good just before the time
The Beatles were forming. In a chapel in Cambridge, an unusual plaque
reads: "Near to this place was buried on 25 March, 1960, the head of
Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland, Fellow
Commoner of this College 1616-7."
Zacks lists as his sources for Cromwell:
"Restless Bones: The Story of Relics" (London, 1985)
Karen Blair, Toronto
|RE: Cromwell's Corpse by "Blair, Karen" <>|