The famous and very beautiful Bayeux tapestry is kept on display in Normandy and of course in the town of Bayeux. Not very much is known about the origins of this amazing work. The first record of it describes it as a ‘very long and narrow hanging’ and this was written in 1476, but the tapestry itself dates much further back in time, to 1070. It is believed to have been commissioned by one of the bishops of the time. His name was Bishop Odo of Bayeux and it just so happens that he was the half brother to William the Conqueror.
What was referred to back in the 15th century as a ‘long tapestry’ is quite right as it measures over 70 metres. It is not really a tapestry at all as it is an embroidery which is stitched not actually woven. There are many historians who would argue that it was made in Kent but then this is still a matter for debate. The original is kept in Bayeux but there is a replica of it that was made by Elizabeth Wardle. This replica tapestry is on display in the UK, in Reading. The reason for it having been expertly copied and embroidered was that England should have one of their own.
This superb and very intricate tapestry depicts the celebration of the conquest of England by William who was the Duke of Normandy and although some believe it was embroidered by monks in England after the Battle of Hastings in 1066, this is very much a subject for debate as mentioned earlier.
The tapestry is a wonderful mixture of legendary animals, Vikings as well as Norman and Saxon horsemen and includes ships all illustrating the battles and encounters between William the Conqueror and another pretender to the throne of England, namely Harold who was his opponent in his bid for the throne
The Bayeux tapestry is listed by UNESCO as being a ‘Memory of the World’ and it is one of the most treasured works of art in the entire world. Although the replica in England is also considered to be magnificent and a true work of art as it was intricately copied by Elizabeth Wardle to the minutest detail. The replica Bayeux tapestry is housed in a museum that was specially constructed to display it in all its’ glory and as a single tapestry which can be viewed in its entirety.
There are some gorgeously embroidered scenes on the Bayeux tapestry and each one of them depicts an episode of the period when William the Conqueror campaigned against his rival, eventually winning the day. The tapestry is a true work of art that shows just how the events unrolled which led to his victory. It really doesn’t matter if it was the English or the French who worked on this masterpiece, because whoever they happened to be, we have to admit they were highly skilled craftspeople of their day. They created a treasure which is much admired in these modern times, whether it is the replica in the UK or the original in France.