The Bayeux Tapestry Museum | Attraction Guides | History Hit

The Bayeux Tapestry Museum

Bayeux, Normandy, France

Luke Tomes

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Alamy

About The Bayeux Tapestry Museum

The Bayeux Tapestry Museum (Musee de la Tapisserie de Bayeux) is housed in a seminary in Bayeux called Centre Guillaume Le Conquerant and holds one of the most famous historical chronicles in the world, the Bayeux Tapestry.

The Bayeux Tapestry Museum history

The Bayeux Tapestry is a 230-foot wool embroidered account of William, Duke of Normandy’s conquest of England including the Battle of Hastings where he defeated Harold, the King of England on 14 October 1066. Whilst the origins of this incredibly detailed tapestry are a subject of controversy, it is thought that it dates back to the year of the battle.

The Bayeux Tapestry is a masterpiece of 11th century Romanesque art, which was probably commissioned by Bishop Odo, William the Conqueror’s half-brother, to embellish his newly-built cathedral in Bayeux in 1077. The story told by the Bayeux Tapestry begins in 1064, when Edward the Confessor, King of England, instructs his brother-in-law Harold Godwinson to travel to Normandy in order to offer his cousin William the succession to the English throne.

Although the end of the embroidery is missing, the story ends with the Anglo-Saxons fleeing at the end of the Battle of Hastings in October 1066. One of the most iconic images on the tapestry is the depiction of Harold Godwinson’s death, in which the English King is struck by an arrow to the eye.

Told from the Norman viewpoint, the Bayeux Tapestry has itself been a subject of debate, but it remains one of the only sources telling the story of the Norman Conquest and a useful insight into the medieval world. The importance of this historical document has been recognised by UNESCO, who listed it on their Memory of the World Register.

The Bayeux Tapestry Museum today

The Bayeux Tapestry Museum displays the original embroidered piece in a special gallery and has a further exhibit offering an insight into the story it tells as well as the way in which it was made. Audio guides lasting twenty minutes explain each of the 58 scenes shown in the tapestry are available in 14 languages and for children in English and French.

The Bayeux Tapestry Museum also has cinema room, showing a documentary about the history of the Norman Conquest and the tapestry. A visit to the Bayeux Tapestry Museum lasts around 1.5 hours.

Getting to The Bayeux Tapestry Museum

If travelling by car from Caen take the N13 and exit 36 to Bayeux. From Rennes use the A84 or E03 towards Caen and take exit 43 and the D6 toward Bayeux. If travelling by train, the nearest train station is Bayeux (roughly a 10 to 15 minute walk away from the museums).

There is parking is in the immediate vicinity. The short distance separating the 3 museums of the city makes it possible to reach them on foot.

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