Cromwell’s Chests

The school room where Cromwell attended school in 16th Century England.

Recently, I was fortunate to visit the Cromwell Museum in the heart of the city of Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. The Museum is situated alongside Pizza Express – actually quite handy. It was upon leaving the eatery that we spotted the Museum – talk about ‘going there and figuring out what to see’ approach – it works sometimes. This was an exciting discovery for me.

My knowledge of English history is rather sketchy but Oliver Cromwell was one character in English history that featured in my history classes. Back to the present. As I walked around the exhibits in the rather confined space, my eyes were drawn to the ornate chests. Cromwell’s medicine chest was one – the most famous one. I took the photo through the glass display stand so the image is not sharp. Anyway, the chest and its contents were most impressive. Must have been an expensive chest to make not to mention the containers – all very precise, decorative and of the same size. Such a beautiful piece of work. Cromwell must have been proud to own this set.


Below are some of the items in Cromwell’s medicine chest. The scissors and the syringe stood out for me. Firstly, the scissors was ornate and gorgeous. I bet it’s one of a kind in the world. The second item was the syringe. I shuddered mentally to imagine who would voluntarily offer their arm up for a shot from this syringe! The needle part was enormous and I wondered whether Cromwell had occasion to use it and whether he flinched – even quietly. Ouch! How we have progressed, syringe-wise!

The scissors and syringe stood out...

I moved around looking at more items especially the costumes and a whole bunch of other interestng Cromwell memorabilia. Then I saw this chest…it was different from the medicine chest. This one was very beautifully decorated on the outside with stones of various colours and I think bone or ivory or mother-of-pearl.  The craftsmanship and decorations were amazing. A lot of work must have gone into making this chest too.

Another ornate chest...

I was thankful to have come across this exhibition of some of Cromwell’s belongings, especially the chests. I left the Museum grateful for the opportunity to have seen this exhibition. If you happen to be in Huntingdon, pay a visit to the Cromwell Museum – it’s worth the time. I learnt quite a bit about the man and some of his priced possessions.