|Oliver Cromwell honored on the Reformation Wall|
in Geneva Switzerland
But our present interest in Oliver Cromwell is what took place after his death. Here’s the story as reported by the London Daily Telegraph in November 2008.
Tradition has it that the sentry had republican sympathies, and hid the severed head like a holy relic in his home, revealing its existence only on his deathbed. His daughter later sold it, and during the 18th century it passed through the hands of various entrepreneurs and showmen, who thought - mistakenly - that they could make their fortune by exhibiting it. In 1815 this bizarre item was bought by a Mr. Wilkinson, whose family kept it out of public view, but allowed it to be carefully inspected by two scientists in 1934; finally, in 1960, it was given a decent burial in or near the chapel of Cromwell's old Cambridge college.
Ollie on a portable pike held by his last private owner
To be honest, I never went looking for Cromwell’s head. I stumbled on it, figuratively speaking. My brother John and I spent a week in England together in December 1997 which included a couple of days touring in Cambridge. As we walked through the University we ducked out of the rain into the entryway of Sidney Sussex College – which happens to be the alma mater of Oliver Cromwell and the final custodian of his noggin. Naturally I had to get a picture. And naturally Ollie Cromwell became a prime candidate for this blog.
|The college purposely didn't identify the exact burial place of the head so no one would be tempted to dig it up and take it on the road again. I think my head in this picture is scary enough.|