The Ashburnham Collection

Carisbrooke Castle Museum is pleased to show for the first time at the castle a private collection of rare and significant items associated with King Charles I. These objects have been passed down through the family of John Ashburnham, a loyal and trusted courtier who became the treasurer and paymaster of the King’s army during the English Civil War.

The collection includes an important collection of Civil War era letters and manuscripts. There are letters written by Charles, some in cipher, while the most significant item is the detailed and contemporary record of the royal finances, from the cost of maintaining the King’s armies to minor personal disbursements including charitable gifts, providing a unique insight into the Royal court in time of war.

The collection also includes personal items of clothing once belonging to Charles, rare surviving examples of early Stuart court textiles, and a lock of hair taken from the King’s body when it was exhumed from his tomb in 1813. These relics have been treasured for their association with the martyred king.

white linen embroidered shirt cuff
Letter handwritten in code

Our thanks to the Ashburnham Heritage Trust who have placed this collection on long term loan at the museum, to enable greater public access and understanding of the objects and their history.

This exhibition has been made possible as a result of the Government Indemnity Scheme. Carisbrooke Castle Museum would like to thank HM Government for providing indemnity and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England for arranging the indemnity.

Please note: This exhibition is housed in an upper room which is accessible only by stairs. Unfortunately, because the castle is a listed monument it is not possible to make adaptions to provide access to upper floors for those who have difficulty managing stairs.

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