I was disappointed to find that I’d missed an opportunity to see the Prestonpans Tapestry at Bayeux last week and even more disappointed to find that the Great Tapestry of Scotland would no longer be on display at the Parliament building in Edinburgh while I’m paying a visit to ‘beyond up north’ next month. I was however, delighted to find that forty panels of the Great Tapestry are on display at Cheltenham Town Hall during the Literature Festival so I hot-footed it there this afternoon with my camera. The tapestry covers the history of the land of my birth over 12000 years and like the one in Bayeux, is not a tapestry at all but an embroidery, and more than twice as long. If you’re in the area, and interested in stitchery and or history, you have until 13th October to have a well-worth-it look.
The Cheltenham Festivals‘ Director introduced herself to me while I was lining up a shot and she explained that the opportunity to display the panels was suggested by her tapestry contact with a tentative “I don’t suppose you’d be interested in displaying some panels during the festival would you?” to which she felt she could only reply “Yes!” and I for one am glad she did. Unfortunately, the Town Hall was not built to display embroideries so the panels have had to be hung above head height to protect them. They are still surprisingly fairly easy to view and even without being able to get up close and peer at individual stitches (which is what I like to do), I spent a happy half hour and more snapping away and didn’t get a crick in my neck.
It would be nice if the tapestry website provided more information about each panel as well as information about the thousand or so embroiderers involved but I suspect that it’s mainly a vehicle to promote the related book. Did I hear you say I was being cynical now? Probably. Sadly, as of five minutes ago, the website does not yet list future tour dates or venues although those were promised for before the end of September. Anyway, here’s a small taster for you: