I witnessed a rather unusual event yesterday – creeping rather sheepishly out onto the grass on Cromwell Green, two men laid a wreath at the base of the statue of Oliver Cromwell which stands in front of the Palace of Westminster opposite Parliament Square.
These two men were Professor Peter Gaunt, a lecturer in European history at the University of Chester, and Dr Patrick Little, a senior research fellow at the History of Parliament Trust. Why were they here? Well 3 September marks the date of Cromwell’s death, and they laid the wreath in his honour because they are the co-chairs of the Cromwell Association, a charity formed in 1937 to educate the public on the important place that he holds in British history. They also work to protect and preserve important sites associated with Oliver Cromwell, and they provide support to the Cromwell Museum and Cromwell Collection at its home in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire – Oliver Cromwell’s birthplace.
I think they might have their work cut out – lots of people have no idea that we were a Republic for 11 short years in the mid 1600s, or that after King Charles II took the throne in 1660 he had to concede that political power should rest with Parliament rather than the monarch, a decision that can be directly attributed to the fact that his father lost his head because of Cromwell’s actions. When you pass by the Lord Protector’s statue on the green, spare a moment to think about what our country might look like today without him.