In 1980 a team of people started work on a tapestry panel. Over the next 20 years it would grow to eventually become a series of 24 panels covering English history from 1583 to 1642. For a time it was the largest tapestry in the world with each panel measuring just under 3.4 metres long by 1.2 metres wide (Total length over 80 meters).
By the end of the project over 250 people had worked on the panels across 9 centres in the West of England.
All were volunteers and gave their time for free. The project was self-funded, raising money and donations of materials from individuals and businesses.
Logistically it was a massive project needing tight quality control and careful logistics to ensure wool was always available in the correct colour and grade.
Some of the people worked on every panel over the 20 years. Others spent a year or two as part of a team working on a single or few panels.
As the tapestry has been in store in a museum archives since 2000 we had Tom Mor, the designer of the tapestry, provide a guided talk to each panel to create a virtual tour. This can be found here.
We felt it was only right to hear from the people who had stitched the panels. The first challenge was finding out how many were still with us and well enough to attend and then find a location where we could meet. Renée Harvey, who was a key member of the tapestry team was our ‘go-to’ person who tracked people down and found us a location to meet.
It was a wonderful experience for us to meet some of the people who had worked on the project and to listen to their stories and their personal involvement.
It was especially interesting to hear about the trip by members of the stitching team to America to show one of the panels to the The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Texas and the challenges they faced in transporting it back and forth through customs.
We made a short video of those who were able to attend the reunion.
Below is the audio of the round table reunion. For some it was the first time that they had met. For others it was a chance to meet again after many years and share fond memories of the project.
This audio includes wonderful stories of the Royal Family, some of the funny goings-on and cherished memories and conversations.