Stitching a reproduction of part of the Bayeux Tapestry isn’t a new or unique idea. It’s been done by individuals for a long, long time and more recently by groups who wanted a reproduction. The reasons vary but most often it’s because they feel a strong connection to the past and the story of the Tapestry.
Below is information from their own web sites about three reproductions created by groups of people. Please take time to visit each site.
It was the idea of Elizabeth Wardle to make the replica Bayeux Tapestry, now on display in the Museum of Reading. She was a skilled embroiderer and a member of the Leek Embroidery Society in Staffordshire. Her husband, Thomas Wardle, was a leading silk industrialist. Elizabeth researched the tapestry by visiting Bayeux in 1885. The Society also based the replica on hand-coloured photographs of the tapestry held by the South Kensington Museum, now called the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The aim of the project was to make a full-sized and accurate replica of the Bayeux Tapestry “so that England should have a copy of its own“.
Thirty-five female members of the Leek Embroidery Society worked under Elizabeth Wardle’s direction. This ambitious project was completed in just over a year. As well as members from Leek, women from Derbyshire, Birmingham, Macclesfield and London took part. Each embroiderer stitched her name beneath her completed panel.
In 1895 the replica Bayeux Tapestry was exhibited in the Town Hall at Reading. The Reading exhibition was supported by Alderman Arthur Hill, a former Mayor. Alderman Hill offered to buy the replica. This offer was accepted by the Leek Embroidery Society. He then presented the tapestry as a gift to Reading where it was displayed in the Reading Museum and Art Gallery. Visit their site here.
This could be mistaken for part of the Bayeux Tapestry. It is in fact an exact copy of a 1 metre (39 inch) long section of the original Tapestry. It was made for the D-Day Museum in 2001, over 900 years after the original Bayeux Tapestry was produced. The Portsea Island Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild made the copy for the D-Day Museum. Between June and November 2001, 27 adults and seven children spent nearly 200 hours stitching it. Visit their site here.
It is a little-known fact that the Bayeux Tapestry is incomplete. The famous embroidery tracks in 50 scenes the events of the Norman conquest leading up to the Battle of Hastings, but runs out before this period of history reaches its conclusion: the coronation of William the Conqueror in London on Christmas Day in 1066.
The omission of this final scene (historians believe at least two panels are lost) is in the process of being corrected in the incongruous surroundings of a local library on the small Channel Island of Alderney, where, to date, nearly 350 people have worked on a sequel to the tapestry. Even Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have made their own contribution, adding a few royal stitches when they visited during their official Jubilee tour in July.
It was Kate Russell, an American who lives on the island, who came up with the idea for the project. Since admiring the original tapestry on a visit to the museum in Bayeux, Normandy, the tapestry’s home on and off since records first referenced it at Bayeux Cathedral in 1476, she says she had become somewhat obsessed with it. “I read up as much as I could about it and learnt that many experts believe there’s a piece missing,” she says. “At the moment it ends with the scene of the Anglo-Saxon army in disarray on the battlefield of Hastings, not the coronation.” Visit their site here.
All of these replicas are amazing and a testament to the continued interest in the story of the invasion of England by the Normans in 1066. The tapestry isn’t only a beautiful piece of needlework, it’s an ancient record of an event that changed life for the people effected. It’s considered a historical record as well as art.
Next time I’ll be showing you a replica made by one of our readers. She did all of the work herself and it is amazing!
Have you worked on a replica of the Tapestry? Does it interest you? Tell us all about it please!
From Anna Scott’s Blog “Embroidery and Inspiration”