Key Collections

The Cromwell Museum is home to the best collection in the world of items relating to Oliver Cromwell. We have a collection of nearly a thousand objects including paintings and works of art, arms and armour, personal items, written and printed documents, coins and medals and commemorative items relating to Cromwell’s life and times.

Around 70% of our collection belongs to the Museum; 10% is kindly loaned to us by other museums and institutions including the Royal Armouries, Cambridgeshire Archives and the Museum of London.

Just under 20% of our collection is on long term loan to us from the Bush family, Cromwell’s immediate descendants. We are very grateful for their ongoing support and kindness in sharing their incredible collection of items which have been handed down through the family over the last 370 years.

This section provides more information about just some of the highlights of the collection; most of the items here are part of our regular displays. We aim to be able to have a comprehensive searchable database of the entire collection accessible via this website over the next couple of years.

About a third of the Museum’s collection is on display at any one time; we welcome enquiries to view other items not currently on show by appointment. Please contact us for more details.

Portrait of King Charles I, Circle of Sir Peter Lely, Oil on Canvas.

This portrait depicts the King against a classical background in black silk robes (black being an expensive and high status dye) and wearing the Order of the Garter.

‘Cromwell leading his Cavalry into Battle’ by Abraham Cooper, c. 1860, Oil on Canvas.

This painting is almost certainly meant to show Cromwell in action at the Battle of Naseby in 1645. There are very few contemporary images of a Civil War battle, so most images of fighting from Cromwell’s time were, like this painting, produced in the Victorian period.

Portrait of Sir Oliver Cromwell, circle of Hieronimo Custodis, c.1580, Oil on Panel.

This late 16th century portrait depicts Sir Oliver Cromwell, uncle of Oliver Cromwell and then owner of Hinchingbrooke House as he was as a young man. Sir Oliver became a friend of King James I and regularly entertained him at Hinchingbrooke, virtually bankrupting himself in the process.

Portrait of George Monck, after Samuel Cooper, Oil on Canvas.

Monck was one of Cromwell’s most trusted commanders, despite having started the Civil War as a Royalist. He later went on to become one of the key figures in enabling the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.

Portrait of Oliver Cromwell by Robert Walker, Oil on Canvas.

This portrait of Cromwell is based on an earlier Van Dyck portrait of Sir Edmund Verney, King Charles I’s standard bearer. Tradition has it that this portrait was owned by his daughter Bridget.

Portrait of Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, Circle of Sir Peter Lely, Oil on Canvas.

This portrait is of Edward Montagu (1625-72) who was brought up at Hinchingbrooke House, educated at Huntingdon Grammar School (now the Museum) and served as an admiral to both Cromwell and Charles II.

‘Study for a painting of the Battle near Boston’ by James Ward, c.1826, Oil on Canvas.

This painting depicts a Civil War battle with Cromwell at the heart of the action in a fierce cavalry action. The exact battle which it shows is disputed – it may show the Battle of Winceby which took place in Lincolnshire in 1643, although it has been exhibited at times as showing the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644.

Portrait of Sir Thomas Fairfax, Circle of Robert Walker, Oil on Canvas.

This is an unusual portrait of Fairfax, Cromwell’s friend and commander through much of the Civil War, depicted in armour as befits a general.

Portrait of Oliver Cromwell, Studio of Sir Peter Lely, Oil on Canvas.

This is one of several copies of the same portrait produced in Lely’s studio. This is thought to be the portrait for which Cromwell reputedly told the artist: “Mr Lely, I desire that you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts and everything; otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it”.

Portrait of Oliver Cromwell by Robert Walker, c.1649, Oil on Canvas.

This unique portrait of Cromwell is the largest item in our collection; at over 2m tall it is almost a life sized portrait, showing him dressed as a senior cavalry officer and carrying a general’s baton of office.

Download acrobat reader