Council supports calls to display tapestry in city
An ambitious bid could be launched by the city council to bring the Bayeux Tapestry to Canterbury, we can reveal.
French president Emmanuel Macron is expected to confirm today (Thursday) that the famed 11th century artefact will leave France for the first time in 950 years.
But it is believed no venues to host the 240ft-long tapestry have yet been decided upon.
And city chiefs say if that’s the case, they’ll look to ensure Canterbury is in the running to host such a prestigious exhibition.
Historians believe the tapestry, which depicts the Norman conquest of Britain and has been kept in a museum in Bayeux in Normandy for 950 years, was actually made in Canterbury.
Now the city council says it will work with other local organisations in an effort to bring it back to the city if the opportunity arises.
French and British culture officials have apparently been talking for months about the possibility of the precious work being loaned for exhibition to the UK.
Bookmakers Ladbrokes was quoting 5-1 on it coming to Canterbury, but evens on it being displayed in the British Museum.
Council spokesman Rob Davies said: “It’s incredibly exciting that the Bayeux Tapestry may be coming to the UK.
“It is almost certainly true that it was made here, and there is a very credible argument that Canterbury, a modern city but with a strong reputation for heritage, is its natural home and should be the place where people get to see it.
“Although there has been no formal announcement yet, we’re already talking to other local organisations about the possibilities this opens up for Canterbury and will be pressing the city’s case at the earliest opportunity.”
However, leading city historian Paul Bennett of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust thinks it is unlikely to be shown anywhere in the city, despite its historical connections.
He said: “Because of its fragility, it has yet to be established whether the tapestry can even be moved from the museum in Bayeux.
“It’s a truly great thing and it will be wonderful if it can come to Britain where it would generate huge interest.
“There is a school of thought that it was made in Canterbury at St Augustine’s Abbey. But it’s a formidable thing and it’s hard to think where it could be displayed in the city.
“Even if it can be moved from France, I think it is more likely to be exhibited somewhere like the British Museum or V&A where it would be seen by many more people.”
Reports suggested the visit is not expected for a further five years.
What do you think? Email us at ken[email protected]mgroup.co.uk.
City chiefs are hoping to ensure Canterbury will be in the running to host the world-famous Bayeux Tapestry
Canterbury Archaeological Trust director Paull Bennett