These light brown kid leather gloves, dating from the 1640s, boast embellished cuffs and were a sign of status in the 17th century. They were often presented as gifts at New Year, Valentine’s Day, christenings and marriages. The gauntlets of this pair are embroidered with a pattern of birds and tulips worked in brightly coloured silk threads with a looped fringe of silver thread around the edge.
The gloves are said to have belonged to Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), leader of the Parliamentarians during the Civil Wars. Tradition has it that he left them behind, together with a cap and two combs, at Chard in Somerset when he retreated before the advancing army of Charles I (1600-1649) in July 1645. Allegedly these items were placed in a Chard church vault, where they stayed until c.1935 when the owner of the vault gave them away to settle a debt. Mr John Hunt then sold the set to Sir William Burrell for Ł65 in 1937, together with two letters authenticating the claim. However, the association with Cromwell cannot be fully verified as whilst the gloves are of a style contemporary to Cromwell’s era, the cap is of a much later date.