D-Day and the Overlord Embroidery

The D-Day Museum is now undergoing a complete refurbishment and is not open to the public. This is part of our exciting £4.9 million Transforming the D-Day Museum project, assisted by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Read more about this exciting project here. The Museum will re-open in spring 2018, with completely new displays about D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, told through the stories of those who took part.

When the museum reopens, there will be additional displays about how the Overlord Embroidery was designed and made, and about the story that it tells. The following photographs show our old displays.

The Overlord Embroidery Gallery at the D-Day Museum

The Overlord Embroidery, the centrepiece of the D-Day Museum, was commissioned by Lord Dulverton of Batsford as a tribute to the sacrifice and heroism of those who took part. Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, it traces in stunning visual form the progress of Overlord, from its origins in the dark days of 1940 to victory in Normandy in 1944.

Detail from panel 12 of the Overlord Embroidery, showing the Allied fleet at sea







Sandra Lawrence designed the Overlord Embroidery. She first prepared thumbnail sketches using wartime photographs for reference. These were discussed by an advisory committee set up by Lord Dulverton to guide the making of this splendid work of art. It included a retired Senior Officer from each of the services, dubbed the three wise men. Once the sketch was approved, Sandra painted a full size watercolour of it - one for each of the 34 panels.

Detail from panel 33 of the Overlord Embroidery, showing Typhoon aircraft

Using these designs the embroidered panels each 2.4 metres long and 0.9 metres deep, were created by The Royal School of Needlework. The original watercolours are now hanging in the Pentagon, Washington.

Detail from panel 2 of the Overlord Embroidery, showing WAAF plotters

The designs were transferred to linen using a technique, which dates back to Tudor times, known as "pricking and pouncing". Hundreds of holes were pricked through the lines of a tracing taken from the paintings and fine black powder or "pounce" was rubbed through leaving a trail of dots in the linen.

The dots were then joined up and pieces of material matching the colour and shade shown in the paintings were sewn onto the linen to create the appliqué panels. More than 50 different materials were used in the making of the Embroidery including fabrics taken from uniforms and headgear of those involved in the three services.


Staff of the Royal School of Needlework who worked on the Overlord Embroidery:

Director - David Lloyd

Head of the Workroom - Margaret Bartlett

Embroiderers: Felicity Ball, Christina Bell, Josephine Crean, Hilary Cross, Sonia Ebert, Mary Elford, Ruby Essam, Heather Fordham, Carol Hall, Wendy Hogg, Patricia Hollister, Pamela Houghton, Susan Howard, Judith Lewis, Rosemary Mason, Jacqueline Short, Jill Trotman, Rosalind Willows, Selina Winter, Celia Wood

Apprentices: Janice Atkinson, Caroline de Bethel, Yvonne Howson, Linda Price, Lynn Prior


Links to other major embroideries:
The Bayeux Tapestry
The Great Tapestry of Scotland
The Guernsey Tapestry
The Prestonpans Tapestry