The Plymouth Tapestry: Stitching 400 years

by Mar 12, 2020

Many people are familiar with the Bayeux Tapestry, which tells the story of the Norman Conquest and the Battle of Hastings through an embroidered cloth almost 230 M  Long.

Learn more in this short film: The Bayeux Tapestry – Seven Ages of Britain from BBC One

This spectacular piece of work inspired a group of embroiderers and historians in Plymouth, Massachusetts who were looking for a project to celebrate the 400th anniversary of their town.

The project was a huge undertaking that involved many stitchers and designers. Elizabeth Creeden designed the drawings and did sample stitches and colour selections for each of the panels.  Early in the process, it was decided that this would be a communal project.  There were workshops that allowed interested community members to learn stitches and take part in the project.  Panels were also taken to other events to provide more opportunities for volunteers to participate.

The Plymouth Tapestry was conceived as a multi-year project, which will be completed in late 2121.  It will include 20 -6 ft panels. The completed tapestry will tell the story of the pilgrims, the Wampanoag people and the general history of the area.  One of the challenges is very different records and stories of history.

We realize we are telling two different stories and two very different kinds of traditions and ways of passing on knowledge. With the English side, it’s all about written records and documentation….. It’s wonderful to have an Aquinnah Wampanoag tribal member sitting at the table with us, and she said, “You know our history isn’t the same. We don’t look at it in the same way. We have an oral history that’s gone on for thousands of years; we share stories of our people.

Quote from The Plymouth Tapestry, by Cheryl Christian in Needle Arts (Dec. 2018, pp 18-24)

This work will tell the long history of Plymouth and leaving a lasting legacy that will be remembered as is its original inspiration,
the Bayeux Tapestry.

Read more about the Plymouth Tapestry and its stories in The Plymouth Tapestry or visit the Pilgram Hall Museum website.

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


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