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The Cromwell Statue at Westminster

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The Cromwell Statue at Westminster

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The Cromwell Statue at Westminster

In 1894, the Liberal Prime Minister, Lord Rosebery, proposed that Parliament set up a statue of Oliver Cromwell at Westminster, to mark the 300th anniversary of his birth in 1599. Rosebery was a great admirer of Cromwell, though not for his republicanism. He saw Cromwell as “a mighty man of action... a defender of the faith; the raiser and maintainer of the Empire of England.”

Rosebery’s proposal aroused fierce opposition. Irish MPs remembered Cromwell’s ruthless behaviour during his conquest of Ireland in 1649-50, while many English MPs objected on the grounds that Cromwell had organised the trial and execution of Charles I. So the request for public funds was dropped and an anonymous donor – probably Rosebery himself – paid for the statue to be made. On 14 November 1899, at 7.30 in the morning, the work was unveiled. To avoid a public scene, there was no ceremony.

The statue, by Hamo Thorneycroft, shows Cromwell holding a sword and a Bible, his head bowed in thought. According to one view, this is to avoid the accusing gaze of King Charles, whose bust is on the wall of St Margaret’s Church, directly opposite!

Photo © Jack Sullivan / Alamy

NOMINATION 1094 OF 1170

Your comments

The statue put up in 1899 after much debate is an iconic image of Cromwell, a hugely important figure in the early modern world. The name Cromwell is known throughout the English speaking world and the adjective 'Cromwellian' instantly recognisable.

John Goldsmith


Currently undergoing cleaning, should look great when finished in September 2008. Was Tammara's comment a Freudian Slip perhaps?
Graham


Oliver cromwell is a great man .He is known throughout england and will always be remembered.I think it is a great idea that there is a statue he shows how much impotance oliver cromwell was to england.
Tamara


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I nominate the English weather.

PETER FAREY

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