Bayeux tapestry to be displayed in UK for the first time ever
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The 11th century Bayeux tapestry is to be displayed in the UK, after being allowed to leave France for the first time in 950 years.
It is expected that French President Emmanuel Macron will announce the historic loan during his visit to the UK on Thursday.
The artwork, which is 225 feet long, is currently on permanent display in Bayeux, Normandy, and has not been taken out of France for 950 years.
The piece will not be transferred until at least 2020, subject to the outcome of tests ensuring that it is safe to move. In fact the transfer may not take place until 2022, when the Bayeux museum is set to close for refurbishment.
The tapestry tells the story of William the Conqueror’s Norman conquest of England, culminating in the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the death of King Harold.
Embroidered onto a series of linen panels, the exact origins of the tapestry are unknown. The earliest known reference to it is in a 1476 inventory from Bayeux Cathedral. Some historians argue that it was created by a team of nuns in England, not France.
The artwork has only been displayed outside of Normandy twice – once in Paris by Napoleon in the run up to his planned invasion of England, and again in 1944 when the Nazis took it to the Louvre.
It is thought that there have been several unsuccessful British requests to display the tapestry in the past – among them for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 1966.
If the tapestry is allowed to come to the UK, it will most likely be exhibited in the British Museum. Director Hartwig Fischer said the museum would be ‘honoured and delighted’ to display the piece, and that this could be the ‘most significant loan ever’ from France to the UK.