The first panel of the Bayeux Tapestry, depicting King Edward the Confessor talking to Harold Godwinson. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Where should the Bayeux Tapestry be displayed if it comes to the UK?

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 06.03.2018
Three British institutions vie to host medieval artwork
A bidding war is heating up between three British institutions over the right to display the Bayeux Tapestry if it comes to the UK.

The epic medieval tapestry, which depicts events leading to the Battle of Hastings and death of Harold II in 1066, was offered on loan to Britain by the French president Emmanuel Macron in January.

Subject to tests confirming that it is safe to travel, the tapestry could be sent to the UK in 2022 while its regular home in northern France, the Bayeux Museum, is closed for renovation.

The British Museum was quick off the mark following Macron’s offer, with its director Hartwig Fischer declaring that the museum would be “honoured and delighted” if it was chosen to display the legendary 68 metre-long embroidery.

But a number of rival claims have since emerged. According to reports, English Heritage is exploring a bid to display the artwork in a temporary building at its Battle Abbey site in Sussex, which lies at the heart of the bloody events depicted by the tapestry.
Rowena Willard-Wright, a senior curator at the organisation, told the Guardian: “The problem for the British Museum is what you might call the Tutankhamun effect: people end up queuing all the way into Russell Square. If people have to queue, where better than the Sussex countryside?”

Meanwhile Historic Royal Palaces may also be planning to throw its hat into the ring. A spokeswoman from the institution told the Times last week that, as one of the most visible remaining symbols of the Norman conquest, the Tower of London would be an ideal venue to showcase the tapestry.

The tapestry is believed to have been created in England, but has not left France for 950 years. 

Which British venue would be best placed to display the Bayeux Tapestry? Vote in our Twitter poll or share your thoughts in the comments below.


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Peter Saunders
Curator Emeritus, Salisbury Museum
09.03.2018, 10:29
Brendan - you will be pleased to see that I have a letter in today's Times referring to your finely displayed facsimile in Reading.
Brendan Carr
Community Engagement Curator, Reading Museum Service
09.03.2018, 09:28
Reading of course, where it can be compared to the Victorian facsimile, an Arts & Crafts masterpiece, located in the collection here.
Peter Saunders
Curator Emeritus, Salisbury Museum
08.03.2018, 15:08
Calling the rival offers to display the Bayeux Tapestry "a bidding war .. heating up" is a trifle emotive when representatives of these and other organisations have written to The Times (March 3) saying "there is no 'conflict shaping up' about where the tapestry could be displayed" and pointing out they work towards a "consensus".
Personally, I'd be happy to see the tapestry at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill where it would be almost literally within sight of places associated with 1066 - William the Conqueror's probable landing beach at Pevensey, Battle and Hastings.
Jonathan Gammond
Access , Wrexham County Borough Museum
08.03.2018, 00:03
There isn't much point displaying the Bayeux Tapestry at venues that are already struggling to cope with the numbers of visitors they receive, so that rules out the Tower of London and the British Museum. (The irony of the latter's bid to display a massive fragile historic object on loan from a continental historic institution won't be lost either on other European countries. Any way surely the tapestry is more a V&A thing.).
The Tower of London claiming to be one of the most visible reminders of the Norman Conquest is quite funny, considering how many Norman castles there are in this country. I reckon I could make a good case for Goodrich Castle in Herefordshire or Chepstow Castle in Monmouthshire, both have good car parks, are located in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are steeped in medieval history and are far easier to get to!

There is definitely a historic logic to Battle Abbey and Sussex is an interesting area for tourists, staycationers and foreign to discover and enjoy, not least as the location of Britain's newest National Park . I am sure I read that the tapestry was commissioned by Odo,earl of Kent, who was the king's brother, so perhaps somewhere in Canterbury or Dover, the latter could do with a bit of a boost. I am looking forward to seeing it wherever it goes on show, that is if UK plc can afford the loan and insurance costs as the borrower. Does GIS cover this kind of loan?