A vest of King Charles I which he wore on the day of his execution, 371 years ago, outside the Banqueting House will be kept for public display at the Museum of London. The king wore a pale blue silk vest when he was beheaded on January 30, 1649, while a crowd of onlookers there in Whitehall, London.
“Being able to include this incredibly rare vest in a major exhibition is exciting as it is key in telling the story of one of the most infamous executions that occurred in the capital,” said Meriel Jeater, Curator at the Museum of London, in a statement.
The vest has been kept in restricted access in the Museum of London’s dress and textile store due to its age, rarity and importance. But the museum has decided to put it for exhibition for people to explore London’s uncomfortable past of public execution from 1196 to 1868.
After King Charles I was found guilty of treason, he was beheaded, undressed, and items of his clothing were distributed to people in attendance. The high-quality, pale blue-green silk has visible stains on its front and they 'fluoresce' under Ultraviolet light. The reason behind such light could be the presence body fluids, sweat, vomit or another substance.
Jeater said that public executions became embedded in the landscape and culture of London, influencing people’s everyday lives. She added that the public executions were more frequent in London than any other town and attracted huge crowds at locations across the capital.
“However, it’s important to remember that public executions were not reserved only for the distinguished, but that thousands of ordinary Londoners were sentenced to death for many types of crime, from the most serious offences to those that we would consider minor today,” said Jeater.
The exhibition, named Executions, will open in October and the sale of tickets started at 9am on February 1.