THE BAYEUX Tapestry should be displayed in Coventry when it comes to Britain.
That is the view of those behind the successful bid which recently saw Coventry chosen as UK City of Culture 2021.
French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday announced the tapestry – telling the story of William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066 – would leave France for the first time in its 950 year history to go on display at an as yet to be decided location.
The loan will not takes place before 2020, and possibly not until 2022, but Coventry has been quick to throw its hat into the ring – although the British Museum is currently favourite to host the tapestry with Canterbury, Hastings, York and Leicester all in the running.
Coventry City of Culture Trust chairman David Burbidge said the tapestry should go on display in Coventry Cathedral alongside Graham Sutherland’s famous tapestry ‘Christ in Glory’. Sutherland’s iconic work is the largest tapestry in the world and has hung in the cathedral since the building was consecrated in 1962.
Mr Burbidge said: “With Coventry being UK City of Culture in 2021 this would be perfectly timed to come to the city either in 2021 or as part of our legacy.
“Perhaps, before winning the title, we wouldn’t have had the confidence to push ourselves forward to host such a historic piece of work but now believe we would be exactly the right place to host it.
“Coventry is already home to some wonderful tapestry, not least Christ in Glory – by Graham Sutherland – which hangs in Coventry Cathedral and has major French influences.
“It took two years to make – by 12 weavers in central France – and is one piece that is 23 metres high and 12 metres wide. Many high-profile visitors to the city recently have seen it and commented on just how incredible a piece it is.
“There is also the stunning Coventry Tapestry, which dates from around 1500 and which still hangs today at St Mary’s Guildhall was made by Flemish weavers.
“The Coventry Tapestry is widely recognised as one of the rarest and most important examples of this art in the country.
“Its rarity lies not just in its age and remarkable state of preservation, but also in the fact that, incredibly, it remains hanging on the very wall for which it was created more than five hundred years ago.
“At more than nine metres wide and three metres high, this magnificent artwork dominates the north wall of the Great Hall, and displays both the skill of its Flemish weavers, and the wealth of the city of Coventry at the end of the 15th Century.
“So if we could bring the world famous Bayeux Tapestry here, it would be a great attraction during 2021 for visitors from around the country – and indeed around the world – to come to the city and enjoy all of our tapestries.
His views were echoed by culture bid adviser Andrew Dixon.
He said while many places in Britain would be looking to display the 70metre long tapestry Coventry was the “obvious choice”.
The world famous tapestry is on permanent display at a museum in the town of Bayeux, in Normandy, and has very rarely been moved.
But the origins of the tapestry have long been debated by historians.
There are those who believe it was not even created in France, but by teams of nuns across England.
Others say it was commissioned in the 1070s by the half-brother of William the Conqueror – the Bishop Odo of Bayeux.
* Following news of the loan of the Bayeux Tapestry to Britain, Warwick Warwick Castle announced it would be staging a William the Conqueror exhibition this Easter.
It will mark the 950th anniversary of the original Norman-built motte and bailey castle on the site of today’s castle.
Centred around the Mound – which offers panoramic views of the surrounding area but in the 11th century was identified as the perfect place for the new King’s forces to keep a keen eye on Warwickshire and its newly conquered people – the new Conqueror’s Fortress exhibition will commemorate William the Conqueror’s impact on the area.