The original Bayeux Tapestry was commissioned in the 1070s, by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, half-brother of Guillaume le Conquérant aka William the Conqueror or William I. It tells the story of William’s journey to and conquering of England, so it’s an important historical record, albeit in an unusual medium.
Although called a tapestry, it’s embroidered not woven, using wool yarns on linen. The original Bayeux Tapestry can be seen in Bayeux Museum in Normandy, France.
Elizabeth Wardle, wife of silk industrialist Thomas Wardle, felt that England should have its own copy of the Bayeux Tapestry. She visited Bayeux in 1885 and also consulted hand-coloured photographs from the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum). A member of Leek Embroidery Society, Elizabeth got together members of the society plus embroiderers from Birmingham, Derbyshire, Macclesfield and even London, 35 women in all. It took them just over a year, to complete the copy.
The Bayeux Tapestry Replica, went on tour around Britain and also visited Germany and the USA. When it was ten years old, it was exhibited in Reading. A former Mayor of Reading, Alderman Arthur Hill, bought the tapestry from Leek Embroidery Society as a gift to the town and it went on display in Reading Museum and Art Gallery.
In 1993, Reading Museum opened a dedicated gallery for the newly-conserved Bayeux Tapestry replica.
Every Saturday, from 14:00 – 15:00 you can go on a free guided tour of the tapestry.
Reading Museum Biscuit lovers can also explore the Huntley & Palmer’s Gallery.
Featured photo shows a ruined chapel at Battle Abbey, an early Norman building on the site of the Battle of Hastings and much of it remains intact. King Harold is alleged to have been buried on the site but Tony Robinson believes that he is buried under a nearby mini-roundabout.