The original Bayeux tapestry is displayed in Normandy but I discovered in 2012 that Reading Museum has its own copy, embroidered in1886 by 35 members of the Leek Embroidery Society. It tells the story of the Norman invasion of England in 1066 and like all history is written from the perspective of the victors, so William’s right to the throne is emphasised and much is made of the oaths of fealty William forced Harold to swear. It is over 70 m long and about 40 cm deep and is displayed in a purpose built gallery so you can walk round and see all of it. The original is thought to have been embroidered in Kent but the names of the embroiderers are not recorded. In contrast, along the lower edge of each panel of the 1886 copy the name of the worker is embroidered. This is the only indication that the panels have been worked by different embroiderers as the work is an exact copy of the original, apart from one naked man who has been given a pair of shorts in the Victorian copy. The tapestry is beautifully displayed and well worth a visit. The Museum website about the tapestry also provides images of the entire work and lots of extra facts.
In 2013 I discovered that embroiderers in Alderney had completed three new scenes to complete the story of the
The famous tapestry (in fact it is embroidered) ends in frayed threads and
several embroiderers over the years have designed and worked panels to complete
the story. The three new Alderney panels show
William dining on the battle field, accepting the surrender of the English
noblemen, and his coronation at Westminster Abbey. Previous endings to the
tapestry have been made by Jan Messent, Annette Banks, and Jack Thomas. Jan
Messent also published a beautifully illustrated book (The Bayeux tapestry embroiderers’
story) describing her research into the project and her new panels.