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Bashful Bayeux

Artistic licence in Victorian reproduction of the famous tapestry

A number of replicas of the Bayeux Tapestry exist and in particular, William Morris collaborated with textile manufacturer Thomas Wardle. In 1885, Wardle's wife Elizabeth, an accomplished seamstress, organised some 37 women in her Leek School of Art Embroidery, working from a full-scale water-colour facsimile drawing provided by the South Kensington Museum. The full-size replica was finished in 1886 and is now exhibited in the Museum of Reading. Just one change was made - the naked figure in the original tapestry (in the border below the Ælfgyva figure) is depicted wearing a brief garment because the drawing which was worked from was similarly bowdlerised.