25 AUGUST 1979, Page 16

Cromwell's head

Sir: In case Canon Wilkinson's daughter missed your issue of II August could I offer the confirmation about the head for which Simon Courtauld asks?

Canon Wilkinson lived at Woodbridge, not Melton. Just after t he war my father and I were invited in one day — we were staying in the house next door — and shown the Lord Protector's head. It was kept in a wooden box lined with purple satin. It was on a spike to which some faded bits of cloth were attached. The texture was rather like' teak, very dark brown with a few wisps of °rangy coloured hair. There was one tooth in the jaw (I think) and a hatchet mark in the back of the neck where the head had been clumsily hacked from the disinterred corpse by the Tyburn mob. Canon Wilkinson told us t hatthe head had blown down from Westminster Hall one night and been taken home by one of tbc sentries, who pickled it. He had a mass of documents, including the report and photographs done by the British Museum (which must be somewhere) to prove the head's authenticity. Not surprisingly, I was totally convinced and remain so to this day. But I thougbt it had been put in the walls of Sidney Sussex, his old college, hot Pembroke as you suggest.

David Howell House of Commons, London SW1