Home U.K Emmanuel Macron tipped to snub return of historic Bayeux Tapestry to UK:...

Emmanuel Macron tipped to snub return of historic Bayeux Tapestry to UK: ‘Won’t be coming’

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The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth nearly 70 metres long and 50 centimetres tall depicting the Norman conquest of England following the Battle of Hastings. For more than 900 years, debates have raged over whether it should be held in England or France. The tapestry is currently exhibited at the Musee de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Normandy, but in 2018 French President Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May agreed it would be loaned to Britain while the museum was being renovated.

That plan now looks in tatters after a recent analysis of the tapestry uncovered thousands of stains and holes which the museum said needed to be repaired.

It will now be restored for the first time since 1870.

Antoine Verney, the chief curator of the Bayeux Museum, said: “Whilst it’s disappointing news to hear, we will continue to work with our French counterparts to examine options to bring this artefact home.”

But De Leonie Hicks, the author of ‘A Short History of the Normans’ previously ruled that out.

She told History Extra in 2018: “Although it would be exciting to see the Bayeux Tapestry alongside some of the manuscripts that perhaps influenced it, my instinct is that it won’t come to the UK. 

“The conservators at the museum in Bayeux have expressed reservations about its fragile state and, of course, the preservation of this unique artefact has to be the primary consideration in any decisions.

“It is fantastic, however, that the proposed loan has generated so much interest and got people talking about the tapestry, the Normans, and the wider debate surrounding the loan of historical artefacts.”

And the consensus across the Channel seems to fit Dr Hicks’ prediction.

Loic Jamin, in charge of tourism at the museum, said after it’s restoration, it will not be allowed to leave France.

READ MORE: Bayeux Tapestry mystery solved: British archaeologist ends 900-year-old origin debate

He said: “The only justification for possibly moving it is to restore it.”

Last night, chief of the iconic Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Tristram Hunt, offered to do just that, tabling a plan for Britons to foot the estimated £1.8million cost.

Mr Hunt was speaking after Patrick Gomont, the mayor of Bayeux suggested that if Britain still wanted to secure a loan of the tapestry, it should foot the conservation costs.

Mr Gomont said the tapestry could be conserved from when the museum shuts for its renovation in 2024 but would have to be returned for its reopening two years later.

That seems unlikely though, as it would only leave a small window of opportunity for the loan to Britain to happen.

The tapestry was long thought to have been made in France, where it is still sometimes called ‘la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde’ in honour of Queen Matilda.

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The use of Saxon spellings led later historians to conclude that it was produced near Canterbury.

However, experts now believe it was designed to hang Bayeux Cathedral after a British professor discovered it fits perfectly in a lost area.

Christopher Norton, Professor of Art History at the University of York, found the embroidered cloth was designed to be hung along the north, south and west sides of the cathedral between the west wall and choir screen.

He published his findings in the Journal of the British Archaeological Association, stating: “It has always been the case that the simplest explanation is that it was designed for Bayeux Cathedral.

“This general proposition can now be corroborated by the specific evidence that the physical and narrative structure of the tapestry are perfectly adapted to fit the nave of the 11th-Century cathedral.”



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