Bayeux Tapestry Reproductions

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.

The Bayeux Tapestry in Reading

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.

ReadingBayeux1

 

The Bayeux Tapestry in Portsmouth

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.

PortsmouthBayeux

 

The Bayeux Tapestry in Alderney

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.

AlderneyBayeux

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!

 

Create your own Acorn!

TheAcorn

From Anna Scott’s Blog “Embroidery and Inspiration”

“The way Kathy has presented the instructions is just fabulous too. Each step of the stitching has been allocated its own page, which has a large detail image and a line drawing to support the written instructions as well as a reference back to Kathy’s own story of stitching. You really can’t ask for much more.”

Click here for more information and to purchase your own copy of The Acorn.

10 thoughts on “Bayeux Tapestry Reproductions

    • Hi Rm and Dee,

      Sometimes I’m not sure which is more interesting to me – the actual stitching or the historical aspect of the tapestry. There are so many things we don’t know for sure (and will probably never know).

      Liebe Grüße,

      Kathy

  1. I knew that they suspect that tapestry is incomplete. I read something a while back, that one of the creations (Alderney I believe) created the missing panel to show as well. I would like to read whatever historical documents they used to determine how that last panel should be organized.

  2. The Bayeux Tapestry is unique and when you see it in person it can’t fail to impress – because of the workmanship and because it is like being in one of those moments that make you feel very close to the actual events. The tapestry has certainly had a few close escapes, one of which has been documented. During the French Revolution, an enthusiastic crowd of revolutionaries apparently broke into a church with the intention of using the linen for bandages or some such thing, and the tapestry was rescued from destruction by an eloquent lawyer who pleaded with the crowd claiming it as a historical treasure. Great drama. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I read this, so cannot give a source.

  3. I embroidered a reproduction piece from The Bayeaux Tapestry as a gift for my husband. It’s far from perfect but I loved stitching it and he enjoys looking at it on the wall behind his computer! Like you Kath I sometimes wonder whether it’s the actual embroidery or the history which I love most. I am always especially drawn to the stories of the women who stitched throughout “her-story”.

  4. Kathy- What a great project! I look forward to watching your progress. I have a bit of history to add. I’m currently reading “The Monuments Men” by Robert Edsel, which relates the story of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives commission, a joint operation between US and British forces during WWII to protect and return to their rightful owners cultural treasures stolen by the Nazis. The Nazis were intent on possessing the Tapestry, which had been moved from Bayeux to a Louvre repository for safekeeping. After D-Day the Nazis had it returned to the Louvre, and as Paris began to revolt, went to take it. Resistance fighters occupied the Louvre to protect it, including a machine gun on the roof. Less than 2 months after Paris was liberated, the Louvre opened with the Bayeux Tapestry on display (with permission from Bayeux).

    • Hi Lisa,

      That is a great piece of history! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I knew that the Nazi’s had taken the tapestry but didn’t know the story of how it came back.

      Liebe Grüße,
      Kathy

  5. Dear Kathy,

    I have the Wilson book and would like to do a similar project. The hardest part for me would be tracing the outline. Most of the pictures go across two pages. How did you do the tracing? I have done the Bayeaux stitch. Hardest part for me will be the tracing. Please tell be how you did it so well.

    Elaine

    • Hi Elaine,

      There are two posts I will be writing in the next week – one about stem stitch and outline stitch and one about tracing a pattern from a book. Thank you always to readers who give me ideas for posts!

      Liebe Grüße,

      Kathy

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