Reading's Bayeux Tapestry

Contributed by Reading Museum

Reading’s Bayeux Tapestry

Reading's replica was the idea of Elizabeth Wardle, an accomplished embroideress and the wife of Staffordshire silk-dyer Thomas Wardle. Elizabeth had decided to make a full size replica 'so that England should have a copy of its own'. Thomas produced woollen yarns dyed to match the originals and in 1885 thirty-five ladies of the Leek Embroidery Society began work on the 'tapestry'. Work took a year and the replica was exhibited across Britain, and in the USA and Germany, before finding its final home at Reading Museum in 1895.

The Wardles made great efforts to ensure that their copy was as authentic as possible by using the right dyes, wools and stitches. However, there are some uniquely Victorian additions to the copy. In the borders of the original there are several naked men but in the copy their modesty has been protected! The ladies of Leek were not responsible for these prudish alterations; they had simply copied the details from hand-coloured photographs that had been 'cleaned up' by the South Kensington Museum.

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Leek, Staffordshire


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