- The Original Bayeux Tapestry -
The Bayeux Tapestry is preserved and displayed in Bayeux, in
Normandy, France. Nothing is known for certain about the tapestry’s
origins. The first written record of the Bayeux Tapestry is in 1476
when it was recorded in the cathedral treasury at Bayeux as "a
very long and narrow hanging on which are embroidered figures and
inscriptions comprising a representation of the conquest of England".
The Bayeux Tapestry was probably commissioned in the 1070s by
Bishop Odo of Bayeux, half-brother of William the Conqueror. It is over
70 metres long and although it is called a tapestry it is in fact an
embroidery, stitched not woven in woollen yarns on linen. Some historians
argue that it was embroidered in Kent, England. The original tapestry is
on display at Bayeux in Normandy, France.
- The Victorian Replica -
"England should have a copy of its own"
It was the idea of Elizabeth Wardle to make the replica Bayeux
Tapestry, now on display in Reading Museum. 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 Wardle researched the Bayeux 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".
Click on the image to read the text
Thirty-five women 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.
- Touring The Replica -
The replica Bayeux Tapestry was first exhibited in the Nicholson Institute
in Leek in 1886. Over the next ten years the tapestry was put on display in
towns and cities across Britain and it even travelled to Germany and
- A Permanent Home In Reading -
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.
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.
- A New Bayeux Tapestry Gallery -
In 1993 a new Bayeux Tapestry gallery was opened in the Museum. The tapestry was carefully conserved and remounted as a
continuous strip in a specially designed display case. For the first
time for many years the entire tapestry could be seen in one gallery.
Now you can visit the Bayeux Tapestry gallery and see for yourself
the work of the skilled Victorian women of Leek as well as
discovering the story of the Norman Conquest.