No place for ‘Tal­iban’ Cromwell next to Par­lia­ment, says his­to­rian

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Patrick Sawer Mr “at-

A BIT­TER row has bro­ken out be­tween his­to­ri­ans af­ter calls for the statue of Oliver Cromwell in front of the Houses of Par­lia­ment to be taken down.

Jeremy Crick, a so­cial his­to­rian from Stafford­shire, com­pared Cromwell – who led the par­lia­men­tary forces against the king in the English Civil War – to the Tal­iban in Afghanista­n for his anti-re­li­gious zeal and said there should be no place for him out­side the Palace of West­min­ster.

His call fol­lows nu­mer­ous cam­paigns to re­move and re­place stat­ues of fig­ures with prob­lem­atic pasts, no­tably by stu­dents at Ox­ford to have a statue of Ce­cil Rhodes at Oriel Col­lege taken down for his part in the white colonisa- tion and ex­ploita­tion of south­ern Africa. Mr Crick, who spe­cialises in the his­tory of no­table fam­i­lies in Stafford­shire, said Cromwell was re­spon­si­ble for the whole­sale de­struc­tion by Par­lia­men­tar­ian troops of many re­li­gious and church build­ings dur­ing the civil war of 1642 to 1651.

He backed calls for such “unloved stat­ues” to be re­moved to one cen­tral point for fu­ture dis­play. Mr Crick said: “As to who we should send there, might I sug­gest we make a start with the statue of Oliver Cromwell that is sited next to the Palace of West­min­ster?

“Its ban­ish­ment would be poetic jus­tice for his Tal­iban-like de­struc­tion of so many of Eng­land’s cul­tural and re­li­gious arte­facts car­ried out by his fa­nat­i­cal Pu­ri­tan fol­low­ers.” But the Cromwell As­so­ci­a­tion de­scribed Crick’s sug­ges­tion as “folly” and tempt­ing to re­write his­tory”.

John Gold­smith, the group’s chair­man, said: “It was in­evitable in the present de­bate about the re­moval of stat­ues that the fig­ure of Oliver Cromwell out­side the Palace of West­min­ster would be­come a tar­get.” He added: “[Sir Wil­liam Hamo] Thor­n­ey­croft’s mag­nif­i­cent rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Cromwell is ev­i­dence of 19th-cen­tury opin­ion and part of the his­to­ri­og­ra­phy of a fig­ure who many be­lieve is still worth cel­e­brat­ing.”

Mr Gold­smith told The Sun­day Tele­graph: “Cromwell is re­garded by many, per­haps more in the late 19th cen­tury than to­day, as a de­fender of par­lia­ment against ex­ter­nal pres­sure, in his case of course the monar­chy.”

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