Death Mask of Oliver Cromwell

Shortly before the decisive Battle of Worcester on September 3rd 1651, Oliver Cromwell, the Commander of the Parliamentary army during the English Civil War, went into Perry Wood where he was seen to meet an old man. An argument took place between Cromwell and the old man, during which Cromwell was heard to say, ‘This is but for seven years; I was to get 21 years.’ Cromwell then returned to his men saying, ‘Now the battle is ours!’. The Parliamentary side went on to be victorious, Worcester was almost destroyed and Britain was no longer ruled by a monarch.

Seven years later to the day, on September 3rd 1658, Cromwell died. The conspiracy theory was widely spread that Cromwell sold his soul to the devil that day in Perry Wood for a victory at Worcester and seven more years of life.

After his death, a wax mould was made of Cromwell’s face which was used to make several plaster death masks including this one on display at The Commandery, before Cromwell was buried with much ceremony.

web Cromwell Death mask (c) Museums WorcestershireWhen Charles II was restored as King in 1660, Cromwell’s remains were exhumed. They were dragged through the streets of London, hanged at Tyburn, and then Cromwell’s head was placed on a spike above Westminster Hall where it remained for more than 25 years.

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