The Overlord Embroidery

After I had posted about the Quilt exhibition, it occured to me that I have told you nothing about an amazing work that I particularly wanted to see when we were in Portsmouth, and the reason we had to run from the Historic Dockyard to get there before it closed. "There" being the D-Day Museum.

It looks a bit like a pillbox, and there is a real Picket-Hamilton fort on display outside the entrance. There are also tanks, canons, and a statue of Monty. 

Monty´s plan for invasion.
Inside the museum you find all sorts of D-Day souvenirs. 

I can´t remember now how I heard of the Overlord Embroidery, but I can tell you it was commissioned by Lord Dulverton (that would have been Frederick Anthony Hamilton Wills in 1968), to commemorate the invasion of France during the Second World War, as a kind of counterpart to the Bayeux tapestry. I have never seen the Bayeux tapestry in real life, but it´s used to illustrate medieval battle quite often, so if you are the least interested in history, you will have seen bits of it. It´s 70 meters long, made in the late 11th century, and isn´t really a tapestry at all, but an embroidery. According to legend, it was made by William the Conquerer´s wife, lady Matilda, but that´s not likely to be true. It does, however, depict the events around the Norman invasion and the battle of Hastings and it was, indeed, made shortly after, probably in England. There´s a replica in Reading, and they have this website that explains all about it.

The Overlord Embroidery was designed by artist Sandra Lawrence, and made by the Royal School of Needlework. It´s 83 meters, which makes it longer than the Bayeux tapestry, and well, of course it would be. It´s made, as far as I can figure, in a similar way as its French counterpart. (If you can indeed argue that the Bayeux tapestry is French. France as we know it didn´t exist, nor did Great Britain, the Normans were never actually thrown out, the rules to rule changed over hundreds of years, and the tapestry is, I think, more about the history of England than the history of France. The French own it, though, it was discovered in the cathedral in Bayeux, and today it´s on display in a museum in Normandy.)

Photography wasn´t allowed, but I got one little snap before I realized, and living dangerously, I will share it with you, to give you an idea of what it looked like in real life, up close. Excellent handicraft, no unfinished edges there! It´s amazing, even the husband, not having a particular interest in needlework, was impressed.

I bought a fold-out souvenir of the whole embroidery, and have taken a few snaps of those, to give you an idea. There is more information at Sarah Lawrence´s site, and at the museum´s website.

When we were finished with the museum we walked leisurely back to our hotel along the Millenium Walk, passing the Capstan Square, where there was once a chain going over the entrance to Portsmouth harbour, stopping ships from entering. You can also see the Palmerston Forts, built in the mid-1800´s in case of a French invasion. Some of these have now been turned into hotels, I understand! Wouldn´t it be cool to stay there!

The Capstan.

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