The Bayeux Tapestry in Portsmouth

This could be mistaken for part of the Bayeux Tapestry. It is in fact an exact copy of a 1 metre (39 inch) long section of the original Tapestry. It was made for the D-Day Museum in 2001, over 900 years after the original Bayeux Tapestry was produced. The Portsea Island Branch of the Embroiderers' Guild made the copy for the D-Day Museum. Between June and November 2001, 27 adults and seven children spent nearly 200 hours stitching it.

Bayeux Tapestry

D-Day and the Bayeux Tapestry: What is the connection?

In 1066 Duke William (William the Conqueror) led the Normans across the English Channel and defeated the English King, Harold, at the Battle of Hastings. William then became King of England. The Bayeux Tapestry was created soon afterwards to record the events of William's victory.

The Bayeux Tapestry inspired the creation of the Overlord Embroidery. There are many similarities between the Norman invasion of England and D-Day, the Allied landings in France in 1944. This section of the Tapestry was chosen because it shows the Norman fleet crossing the English Channel to invade England. The D-Day invasion fleet travelled in the opposite direction to the Normans, and was of course much bigger!

In the left foreground is the ship of the Normans' leader, Duke William. At the top of its mast is a cross that had been blessed by the Pope. The lettering at the top is part of a sentence in Latin that states that Duke William crossed the sea and landed at Pevensey, East Sussex.

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The Bayeux Tapestry and the Overlord Embroidery

The original Bayeux Tapestry was made during the period between 1066 and 1082. No-one is completely sure when, where or by whom it was made. One suggestion is that it was made by nuns in England. The Bayeux Tapestry is actually an embroidery rather than a tapestry. Embroideries (such as the Overlord Embroidery) are stitched, but tapestries are woven on a loom. One difference between the Overlord Embroidery and the Bayeux Tapestry is that the Embroidery uses appliqué (pieces of material which are stitched onto the backing material) but the Bayeux Tapestry only uses stitching.

For making our replica section of the Bayeux Tapestry, original techniques and materials were used as much as possible. It was embroidered with lamb's wool onto linen fabric, with calico backing for support. The wool was dyed using plant material, and there are only eight different colours. In contrast, the Overlord Embroidery uses many more colours and over fifty different types of material. The replica Bayeux Tapestry panel is displayed alongside the Overlord Embroidery at the D-Day Museum, so that visitors can compare both pieces of work.

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Bayeux Tapestry museum, France:

Britain's Bayeux Tapestry, at the Museum of Reading