Cromwell Museum 60th Birthday
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Location: The Cromwell Museum, Huntingdon
The Cromwell Museum is celebrating its birthday this October!
The Museum was first opened on 19 October 1962 by the then Speaker of the House of Commons. In the same week the Beatles first appeared on TV and the Cuban Missile Crisis dominated the news headlines.
We're still in the same building, but over that time we've grown our collections - the best in existence on Cromwell, his life and times - become an independent trust, hosted dozens of exhibitions and hundreds of events, and welcomed nearly 600,000 visitors!
To celebrate during October we've a small display which tells our story, and on Saturday 22 October some of our friends from the Sealed Knot Re-enactment Society will be around the Museum and Town Square 11am - 4pm to chat to visitors about life in the 1600s.
A quick summary of the Museum's story:
- A collection of Cromwell-related items was displayed at Hinchingbrooke House when opened to the public in the late 1940s, including items on loan from his descendants.
- In 1958, for the 300th anniversary of Cromwell’s death, a special exhibition of these and other items was held in Huntingdon Town Hall for a week. It was hugely successful, attracting 100 visitors an hour.
- The success of the 1958 exhibition led to a campaign for the creation of a permanent Cromwell Museum, led by the Chairman of the Archives Committee, Dr E.B. Powley. Dr Powley convinced Huntingdonshire County Council to agree to the creation of a museum in the building which had been Cromwell’s school, that had been acquired by the Council in 1959.
- The Cromwell Museum was opened on the 19 October 1962 by Sir Harry Hylton-Foster, Speaker of the House of Commons, its displays described as ‘appropriate and dignified’ by the Hunts Post.
- Dr Powley oversaw the running of the Museum until his death in 1968. A Cambridge academic, Brian Wormald, then oversaw the Museum until taken over by Cambridgeshire County Council in 1974.
- In 1985 the Museum gained a professional Curator, John Goldsmith. He did a huge amount to develop the collections, attract more visitors and redisplayed the Museum in 1988 and 2004.
- In 2014 Cambridgeshire County Council announced that due to budget cuts they could no longer afford the Cromwell Museum. It looked as though it might close for good.
- A public campaign by local people led to the creation of the Cromwell Museum Trust, a charity that now runs the Museum. A team of dedicated volunteers ensured that it remained open. A new Curator, Stuart Orme, was appointed in 2018.
- In 2020 the Museum was reopened after a major refurbishment. It had to close only weeks later when the Covid-19 Pandemic hit.
- Today the Cromwell Museum has ambitious plans for the future, serving the needs of local people and visitors to Huntingdon.