The Bayeux Tapestry is a unique work of art, a masterpiece that attracts visitors from all over the world. It relates the story of the conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. It is 68.30m long (224ft 1in) and 70cm high (2ft 3.6in).
The tapestry, also known as the Queen Mathilde’s embroidery or tapestry, is an 11th century embroidery, listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World International Register since 2007. And contrary to popular belief, it was not Queen Mathilde and her ladies-in-waiting who crafted it. The embroiderer or rather embroiderers of the Bayeux Tapestry are unknown.
The needle work of art on linen canvas, features hundreds of characters, animals, ships, and countless, miscellaneous objects. The related events start from the end of the reign of the English king Edward the Confessor in 1064 to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the stake of which was the contested throne of England, claimed by both Harold Godwinson and William, Duke of Normandy. This historical work was seemingly commissioned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, William’s half-brother, and embroidered in the years following the conquest.
Although depicting events in a very favourable light to William the Conqueror, to the point of being sometimes considered as a propaganda work, its documentary value is inestimable.
Throughout the centuries, the Tapestry narrowly escaped a dramatic fate. Its history was punctuated by turbulent episodes that threatened to damage it. During World War II, it was transferred to the Louvre Museum in Paris, considered safer. Safeguarded many times, it has reached us unscathed.
The Bayeux Tapestry Museum is in charge of the preservation and promotion of this invaluable work and plans to open a new museum in 2028. The city of Bayeux set up an exhibition to inform visitors about the goals of this new museum. The sketches of the future Bayeux Tapestry Museum will be unveiled to the public at the end of the summer of 2023. They will be visible in the chapel during museum opening hours. The main objective is to disseminate knowledge about the history of the Bayeux Tapestry and to ensure its preservation for future generations.