The Bayeux Tapestry
Nobody knows the truth about who commissioned the tapestry to be made but it certainly dates back to the C11th and was probably made soon after the Battle of Hastings in 1066- one of the few dates which was drummed into us at school! It is commonly believed the tapestry was actually made in England possibly commissioned by Bishop Odo who was a half brother to William the Conqueror and part of the conquering Norman army. Odo was Bishop of Bayeux but became Earl of Kent and, when William was absent in Normandy, regent of England. It is believed he had the tapestry made to hang in his cathedral and hence this is how it became to be in France.
Sadly the final scene from the tapestry has been lost. It is likely that it would have shown William being crowned King of England to match the scene at the beginning of the tapestry where King Edward is on his throne.
The Bayeux Tapestry depicting this piece of history explains why so many of us with British heritage carry such a large slice of Norman DNA and why many of our surnames are or Norman origin. I knew about the tapestry from early childhood so it was a must on my travel list when visiting France. When I finally got my wish I spent hours pouring over this remarkable piece of work.
The tapestry is made up of fifty scenes embroidered on linen with coloured woollen yarns in the colours of terracotta or russet, blue-green, dull gold, olive green, and blue, with small amounts of dark blue or black and sage green. Later repair work has been done in light yellow, orange, and light greens.
The main reference I have used for this Blog was from the Reading Museum where they have a Victorian replica of the Tapestry, housed in its own gallery. If you would like to read a full explanation of the Bayeux Tapestry from beginning to end follow this link to the Reading Museum site:
However I must warn you that all the naked bodies have been clothed by the Victorians in this copy!
On 18 January 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the Bayeux Tapestry would be loaned to Britain for public display. It is expected to be exhibited at the British Museum in London from 2022. It will be the first time that the Tapestry has left France in 950 years.