Calls have been made for the Bayeux Tapestry to go on display in Sussex after news that the world-famous artefact is set to leave France for the first time in 950 years
Earlier today (Wednesday), French president Emmanuel Macron confirmed plans to loan the priceless relic to the UK Government, when the museum it currently calls home closes for refurbishment in 2022.
While agreed in principle, the French government says, details of the deal have yet to be arranged, including which museum will be granted the honour of exhibiting the 68-metre long tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings and other events from the Norman conquest.
The British Museum has already been tipped as front runner by many, but it may yet face competition as calls have been raised for the Bayeux Tapestry to go on display in 1066 Country.
Excitement for the idea is already spreading as Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman raised the issue at PMQs this week.
Asking Prime Minister Theresa May, Mr Merriman said: “Given that visitors to London who wish to see two sides chucking things at each other are already very well catered for by the gallery in this chamber, can I ask the Prime Minister to put in a very good word for Battle Abbey in East Sussex, where viewers can not only see the tapestry but look through the window and see the rolling East Sussex countryside where sadly the Normans gave the Saxons six of the best.”
Theresa May replied: “Can I say to my honourable friend, I think it is very significant that the Bayeux Tapestry is going to be coming to the United Kingdom and that people are going to be able to see this. I hear the bid that he has put in, I have to say to him that from a sedentary position on the front bench my right honourable friend, the Home Secretary and member for Hastings has also put in a bid for this particular issue. I’m sure we will all be looking very carefully to ensure the maximum number of people can take benefit of seeing this tapestry.”
The idea has support elsewhere too with Hastings Borough Council leader Peter Chowney pledging to campaign to bring the tapestry to the area. Cllr Chowney said: “I think the Bayeux Tapestry should be here, and I’m going to write to Amber Rudd asking her to join me in a campaign to bring it to Hastings!”
The idea has also been supported by Battle Mayor David Furness, who said: “As Battle has such a close connection with the events of 1066 it would be wonderful if it were to pay our town a visit. I have heard that once it has been declared safe to be moved it may be exhibited in the British Museum.
“A far more suitable location would be in Battle, where it would be open for public and bring a real boost to the local economy, after all Battle is its spiritual home.
“I would just ask the President of France to give us as much notice as he can about its intended movements in order that we can make the necessary arrangements.”