London, Part Three: Museums

Regular readers (hello both of you), will hopefully already be familiar with my posts on The National Army MuseumThe Museum of London and The Wallace Collection. This post will look at what, Civil War wise, is on display at The British Museum and the V&A.

The British Museum is one of the world's great treasure houses, for those of us with an interest in the Civil War make for Gallery 46. Easy to spot, you'll pretty much have it to yourself as everyone else will be swarming around the mummies and the Sutton Hoo displays.

Newark Siege Coin

The highlight, for myself at least, are the examples of siege coins and tokens.

There are some nice terracotta busts of Charles and Cromwell.

Most of the gallery is devoted to crockery and glassware from the period, particularly striking is a commemorative plate of General Monck.

There is also the obligatory death mask of Oliver Cromwell: their mask is bright red, whereas all the other masks I've seen have been wax brown. It is believed that this mask is the (or at least one of the first) original. There are many death masks on display up and down the country: if it has visible warts then it is a Victorian copy - Cromwell's warts were not visible on the original masks, the Victorians felt that the death mask didn't look right without warts so decided to add them.

The British Museum café, incidentally,  purveys possibly the best carrot cake in London.

The V&A has a myriad of Civil War and Restoration artefacts squirreled away in its collection. But you will have to hunt them out! 

The most obvious place to look is on the first floor in the 50 galleries, where you will fin a small display consisting of a cabinet containing a buffcoat, a set of pikeman's armour and a beautifully embroidered officer's sash.

Another productive hunting ground are the second floor miniatures and jewellery galleries. Highlights include:

The Heylar Jewel, with hidden portrait of Charles I

A miniature of the Prince of Wales, later Charles II

A miniature of the Earl of Dorset

A gold tobacco box, bearing a portrait of Charles I

Lots more for the London Civil War tourist can be found here.

Postcodes for SatNavs/mapping Apps, and Tube Station
British Museum, Great Russell Street WC1B 3DG, Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square or Goodge Street
V&A, Cromwell Road SW7 2RL, South Kensington 

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