Baby gown and gloves worn by Oliver Cromwell on display for first time ever at Huntingdon museum
A baby gown and gloves worn by Oliver Cromwell are among items which have gone on public display for the first time ever after being donated by a family descendant.
The rare unseen collection also features a purse, a lace collar and a letter signed by the famous statesman, as well as an elaborate door lock.
All the pieces were worn or used by the 17th century soldier, who led his army to victory against King Charles I in the English Civil War.
The priceless heirlooms belong to Frances Woodd, an ancestor of Cromwell through the marriage of his eldest daughter Bridget to one of his generals, Henry Ireton.
Stuart Orme, curator of the Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon, said his “jaw hit the floor” when Mrs Woodd turned up with objects in a cardboard box.
He said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked when she opened the box and I saw these incredible items.
“In my entire career I’ve never had anything quite so astonishing come out of the woodwork like that.
“They’re very unusual and their historical value is quite remarkable.”
Cromwell helped lead the Parliamentarians - known as Roundheads - to victory against the king’s Royalists after the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642.
He was one of 59 MPs who signed the deposed monarch’s death warrant.
After being named Lord Protector in 1653, Cromwell went on to effectively rule the country until his death five years later.
But when the monarchy was restored in 1660 under Charles II, the new king had his body dug up and beheaded, with his severed head put on a 20ft spike outside Westminster Hall.
The daughter of Mrs Woodd’s ancestors Ireton and Bridget - also called Bridget - was fiercely proud of her grandfather and made a collection of his personal items.
They were then passed down through the family over the last 350 years.
The lamb’s skin gloves, lace collar and gown are all thought to have been worn by Cromwell.
The intricately engraved door lock was made by Richard Hewse, one of the greatest craftsmen of his age, and is believed to have secured Cromwell’s bedroom at Hampton Court.
Mr Orme said: “It’s a real privilege for us to be able to display this remarkable collection of items which have such a great provenance for being owned by Cromwell having been passed down through a branch of his family for the last 350 years.
“Most have never been publicly displayed before – those that have were last seen at an exhibition over 60 years ago, so this is a once in a generation opportunity to see very personal items that belonged to one of the most famous figures in British history.”
The ‘Unseen Cromwell’ exhibition is open at the Cromwell Museum until January 13.