Oliver Cromwell’s house in Ely dates from the time his family moved there in 1636. They lived in the house until 1647. The house itself dates from the 13th century, although there have been many changes and much is not now original. It was first built as an open hall house for a priest. Students of English history will know that Cromwell became ‘Lord Protector’ or head of the Commonwealth after the execution of Charles I.
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Cromwell was born April 25, 1599 at Huntingdon and went to school there before going to college in Cambridge. When his father died in 1617, he was forced to return to his family. After studying in London at the Inns of Court he married Elizabeth Bourchier, the daughter of a middle class merchant, in 1620. The couple had eight children.
In 1636 Cromwell inherited the estate, where the house in Ely is located. Along with the estate came the position of local tax collector, making Cromwell wealthy.
A tour of the house visits the parlour, kitchen, study, haunted room, gallery, portrait room, tithe office, and a civil war exhibition.
1. The Parlour: contains 17th century oak panelling behind which is painted panelling from 1572. The parlour gives a sense of the house as it would have been in Cromwell’s time. There is a portrait of Cromwell’s mother in the room.
2. The Kitchen: the oldest part of the house, dating from 1215. The fireplace is 15th century. Exhibits detail the work of the kitchen and the diet of the time. The Cromwell family ate simply.
3. The Study: This has a model of Cromwell sitting at his desk.
4. The Haunted Room: this room tells the story of Cromwell’s death. It is thought his ghost may visit here.
5. The Portrait Room: contains a large portrait of Cromwell.
6. The Tithe Office: dates from 1615 and was Cromwell’s office; oak panelling over the fireplace is original; 15th century window to left of fireplace.
7. Civil War Exhibition Room: contains weapons and armour in use in the civil war; gives a time line of Cromwell’s life; exhibits and information on the war are displayed. A video on the Fens is shown in this room.
A tourist information centre is located in the house. The Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon contains personal items of Cromwell’s.
Oliver Cromwell House
29 St Mary’s St
Tel. 0 1353 662 062
Open: April-end October, daily, 10am-5pm; Nov-end March, 11am-4pm; closed 25, 26 Dec and 1 Jan
The Cromwell Museum
Grammar School Walk
Tel. 0 1480 375 830
Open: April–Oct, Tue-Sun, 11am-1pm, 2-5, closes at 4pm Sat and Sun; Nov-March, Tue-Fri, 1-4pm, Sat from 11am-1pm and 2-4pm, Sun from 2-4pm