A visitor recently asked the museum curator, Liz Davies about the image we are using to advertise our English Civil War Murder Mystery evening – why are the Parliamentarians not wearing roundhead helmets? We thought this was an interesting question and this was Liz’s thinking about it:
This woodcut shows men who are not actually fighting a battle so they are not wearing their fighting gear – which for the ordinary Parliamentarian soldier was the ’roundhead’ metal helmet, although some poor men might not even have worn a helmet.
The artist seems to have thought that similar people were wearing roughly similar clothes in the 1640s – as you might imagine – today we can’t really tell how someone votes from their clothes, same in the 1640s. Although wealthy people would have worn different clothes from very poor people and in this woodcut the Parliamentarian supporters are wearing slightly simpler clothes than the Royalists / Cavaliers, so no posh boots with spurs or smart sashes over their coats, this was obviously intended to mark them out as Puritans on the side of Parliament. As well as the boots and spurs the Royalists all have longer hair than the Parliamentarians, although every man has a moustache.