Monthly Archives: December 2013

Don’t forget to sign our e-petition!

Our e-petition is open and receiving ‘e-signatures’ here:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CromwellMuseum

The petition will take just moments to complete – all we need is your name, email address and postcode.  We’re collecting postcodes so we can demonstrate to Cambridgeshire County Council that people who live both in and beyond the county value the Cromwell Museum and wish to keep it open.

Once you have signed the petition, it would be fantastic if you could share the link with your friends and family, asking them to sign too.

If you use Twitter, you can sign up to follow the campaign @SaveCromwellMsm – see the Twitter widget on the right hand side of this page.

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That old (roast) chestnut about Cromwell and Christmas

Any news story that mentions Cromwell at this time of the year almost inevitably reports that Oliver Cromwell singlehandedly banned Christmas when he was Lord Protector. It has been said so many times that many people believe it to be true, but like so many things to do with Cromwell, it is a myth that, deliberately or not, helps perpetuate a negative image.

Today it is impossible to comprehend just how significant religion (and exclusively Christianity) was in this country in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. People died for their beliefs, persecuted and burnt at the stake, sometimes for holding Protestant views and sometimes for holding Catholic ones.

The church in Scotland banned Christmas as early as the 1560s. The argument was that there was no scriptural basis for the celebration of Christmas, and therefore it was pagan, Popish and profane. Protestants, who could now read the Bible for the first time in English, were often literal and fundamentalist in their interpretation of the text.

Against this background, it was hardly surprising that Parliament in the 1640s, as the representatives of a Protestant and Godly nation, should decide that Christmas should not be celebrated. The Directory of Public Worship of 1645, which set out all the new forms of worship, made no reference to Christmas.

Parliament had to confront three issues: it had to convince people that the celebration was irreligious. In this they largely failed, as many wanted to stick to the old ways. There were significant pro-Christmas riots in places like Bury St Edmunds, Norwich and Ipswich in the later 1640s.

Secondly, Parliament tried to suppress religious services on Christmas Day. In this they were more successful, with few services being held to mark the day throughout the 1640s and 1650s.

Thirdly, 25th December was declared a normal working day. Parliament sat on Christmas Day, and many others treated it as a normal day.  However, many others did not and continued to want to celebrate with feasting and dancing.

Why does Cromwell get the blame for all of this?  Cromwell would almost certainly have supported the Parliament’s line, of which he was a part, but so would thousands of other devout Protestants. Cromwell neither proposed nor initiated the end of Christmas.  His image as a dour Puritan is a creation of the 19th century, just as much as a ‘traditional’ Christmas is a creation of Dickens. As with so many things to do with Cromwell, you cannot see the issue outside of the context of the times in which it happened.

Please support the campaign to keep the Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon open. Sign our e-petition here. 

Please watch (and share) our short campaign film

We are pleased to present this short campaign film, in which Victor Lucas and Bob Pugh, members of the Friends of the Cromwell Museum, discuss the significance of Cromwell the man, as well as the importance of the Cromwell Museum to the town of Huntingdon and the wider county of Cambridgeshire.

Please watch the film and share it with your friends.  Don’t forget to ask them to sign the petition against the Museum’s closure here.

With warm thanks to filmmaker Simon Kennedy (Firewater Partnership) for his support.

 

A tale of two petitions

The Friends of the Cromwell Museum have today launched a new petition in their efforts to prevent the closure of the Cromwell Museum.

The petition, at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CromwellMuseum, takes just moments to complete.  It simply requires you to input your name, email address and postcode.  We have asked for your postcode so we can demonstrate that people both in Cambridgeshire and around the country oppose the Museum’s closure. Please do spare the time to add your name.

The Friends are in the process of setting up a second petition, on the Cambridgeshire County Council e-petition site.  We are unsure when this will be launched – the matter is now beyond our control – but we hope it will be soon.  Once live, this petition will be open to Cambridgeshire residents only.  If it should reach 3,000 signatures, there is an opportunity for the issue to be debated at a meeting of full Council.  We will let you know as soon as this petition is open.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Council committee listens to the Friends of the Museum

The Friends of the Cromwell Museum took the opportunity yesterday, Thursday 19th December, to make the case for the Museum to the Safer and Stronger Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel of the County Council.

In the three minutes allowed the significance of the Museum was stressed and a proposal made that a working party of the Council be set up to examine all options for alternative funding. Assurances were sought that funding from the County Council should continue until an alternative solution is firmly in place.

There was verbal support for the Museum, and agreement to the working party, but no discussion of the key issue of whether funding should remain in place.

Waking up to Cromwell

Listeners to BBC Cambridgeshire’s breakfast show this morning heard an impassioned plea from the vice-chairman of Huntingdon and Godmanchester Civic Society, Richard Meredith, that the Museum should be maintained.

Mr Meredith pointed out the significance both of Oliver Cromwell himself and the Museum to Huntingdon. 

Thank you for the support  – it really is vital that as many people as possible help to get the message across. Please visit the ‘What you can do’ page to see how you can get involved.

Save the Cromwell Museum!

The Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon is under threat of closure. The Museum, which was set up in 1962, is earmarked for closure from the end of 2014. The Friends of the Cromwell Museum are determined to prevent this if at all possible. Please support the campaign.

The Museum is run and funded by Cambridgeshire County Council, which like all local authorities, has to make significant budget reductions. The County’s Business Plan for 2014-19 contains a reference to the planned closure of the Museum from 2015-16 to achieve a saving of £20,000. The County Council’s case for the complete withdrawal of support is based on the need to make savings and the fact that the provision of the Museum is not a statutory requirement.

The Friends of the Museum are opposed to the closure on the grounds that it would be a significant loss, locally, regionally and nationally, and that the level of savings proposed is miniscule compared to the authority’s budget as a whole. The County does many things which are equally non-statutory, from the provision of ‘real-time’ bus information on bus stops, to a Mediatheque at Cambridge Central Library. Many other local authorities provide museum services to a far greater extent than Cambridgeshire because they recognise their cultural and economic value. The Friends believe that the Cromwell Museum contributes to the County Council’s wider objectives, and should continue to receive support.

The budget proposals also refer to the option of transferring the Museum to another operator. The Friends support an initiative to investigate this option further, but are not optimistic that an alternative will be found. The Friends urge the County Council to guarantee support for the Museum, at no less than the current level, for five years, unless and until, another viable means of operating the Museum is in place.

If the Museum is to be saved for the future it is critical that concerns are raised now. Join the campaign to save the Cromwell Museum.