Project to celebrate town's history and connection with King Harold

Waltham Abbey tapestry planned

Waltham Abbey tapestry planned

First published in News by

Waltham Abbey is planning a tapestry, similar to the famous one at Bayeux, to celebrate its history and honour its connection with King Harold.

The first meeting to plan the design was held last Thursday at the Town Hall.

Various snapshots of the town’s history will form individual panels which will be stitched together to form a narrative like the famous Bayeaux Tapestry.

The Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross and St Lawrence, the parish church of Waltham Abbey, is reputed to be the last resting place of King Harold, who died at the Battle of Hastings.

The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered cloth, nearly 230ft  long, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, including the death of Harold. 

Ideas for panels for the Waltham Abbey tapestry have already been proposed, including Tovi the Proud, royal attendant to King Cnut, who brought the Holy Cross to Waltham Abbey, Henry II and the formation of the Abbey, the Royal Gunpowder Mills and the history of the Lea Valley.

Town clerk, Kathryn Richmond said: “It was great to see so many ideas already forming and to get the creative juices flowing. Waltham Abbey has one of the richest histories of any town which we should celebrate.”

The idea for the tapestry emerged two years ago at a tourism meeting as part of a drive to increase the number of tourists coming to the area on account of its history.

The stitching of the panels will be open to tourists to get involved and do a portion of the stitching themselves.

Local schools will also be asked to provide design ideas and contribute to the history they would like to see told.

Clive Simpson, of the Waltham Abbey Historical Society, said: “This is a community project for all ages, everyone can get involved. The history of the town is really fascinating, not many towns have had the links to royalty that Waltham Abbey can boast. It’s something more people should be made aware of.”

The project is estimated to take around five years to complete, but the design of the tapestry is set to get underway soon with Waltham Abbey Town Council appealing for stitchers, designers and anyone with ideas for panels to get in touch by emailing kathryn.richmond@walthamabbey-tc.gov.uk

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