Heads will roll when writer and actor Gareth Calway performs his acclaimed show about one of Huntingdonshire’s most famous sons.
Oliver Cromwell and his closest allies will be lampooned through zany theatre... all told by the decapitated head of the Lord Protector himself.
Whether you consider him to be a regicidal dictator or a class revolutionary, sit back and take macabre delight in the gruesome tale of his posthumous hanging and beheading for treason after the Restoration in 1661. The Evening of Cromwellian Entertainment, presented by the Friends of the Cromwell Museum, will also include authentic music from the period by Spirits of the Ayre.
For those not familiar with the story, Cromwell was born in Huntingdon in 1599, into a family of minor gentry.
He studied at Cambridge University and went on to become MP for Huntingdon. But his respectable grounding would soon lead him to change the course of history.
In the 1630s he experienced a religious crisis. During this time, he made his name as a radical Puritan when, in 1640, he was elected to represent Cambridge.
Civil war broke out between Charles I and Parliament in 1642, and although Cromwell lacked military experience, he created and led a formidable cavalry. He rose from the rank of captain to lieutenant-general, and convinced Parliament to establish a professional army – the New Model Army – which won a decisive victory over King Charles I’s soldiers at Naseby in 1645.
The king’s alliance with the Scots and his defeat in the Second Civil War convinced Cromwell that the king must be brought to justice. He was a prime figure in his trial and execution in 1649.
He became army commander and lord lieutenant of Ireland, where he crushed the resistance. He then effectively brought about the end of the English Civil War in 1651 when he triumphed over the royalists.
In 1653, frustrated with a lack of progress, he made himself Lord Protector. He reorganised the church, established Puritanism, and oversaw a level of religious tolerance. He died on September 3, 1658.
But that was not the end of the story. He was succeeded by his son Richard, who, after an unsuccessful period of holding the protectorate, resigned in 1659. With no clear leadership from the factions jostling for power, Charles II was invited back from exile to be king.
On 30 January 1661, Cromwell’s body was exhumed from Westminster Abbey, and was subjected to the ritual of a posthumous execution. His disinterred body was hung in chains at Tyburn, and then thrown into a pit before his severed head was displayed on a pole outside Westminster Hall.
This is where Calway picks up the tale, covering the secret burial of his head three centuries later in Cambridge and looking back at Cromwell’s remarkable life through this amusing monologue.
INFORMATION: At All Saints Church, Huntingdon, on Friday, October 24, at 7.30pm. Tickets £8, with £5 concessions. Drop in to Huntingdon Town Council, call 01480 411883, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.