Modern Bayeux tapestry exhibit at Ely Cathedral

A stitched tapestry narrating 350 years of social history will go on display at Ely Cathedral from January next year.

The idea of brilliant embroiderer Anne Wynn-Wilson following a remark from a boy in her Sunday school in 1981, the Quaker Tapestry is made up of 77 embroidered panels made by 4,000 men, women and children from all over the world.

"That first morning [at Sunday school] was the pebble in the pond which is still creating ripples today," Bridget Guest, manager of the Quaker Tapestry exhibition, said.

"Anne realised that sitting embroidering, having cups of coffee and telling stories was a wonderful medium for education, as well as being very therapeutic and relaxing."

The creation is often compared with the Bayeux tapestry because both use a technique called crewel embroidery to allow the design to dance freely across the surface of the canvas. A special stitch, the Quaker Stitch, was invented and accepted by the Royal School of Needlework to produce the lettering and other details.

Like the famous Bayeux, the Quaker Tapestry is a vivid piece of historical storytelling and each incidence in the Quaker story is captioned with quotes, explanations and details.

It is, as far as the makers know, the largest community textile project ever undertaken. Sections were completed in Australia, America, Europe and this country by many different groups. In some cases the panels made perilous journeys - one teacher took a panel to workshops across Australia and left it to make its own way back with people adding to the stitching at each place.

Click here or on the image above to see pictures of the tapestry

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