The tapestry had taken 20 years to complete (from 1980 to 2000) and involved over 250 volunteer stitchers across 9 centres in South West England.
We discovered its designer was Tom Mor, and through the power of social media we were able to contact him and then meet to find out about the project, what was involved and what had become of the tapestry. We discovered the museum where it had been on display had closed and it was no longer on public display but was in store at Bristol Museum. We arranged with Tom and Bristol Museum to create a virtual exhibition with Tom acting as our guide to each one of the 24 panels. Experience the digital exhibition which took 4 months to complete.
Our next step was to meet members of the stitching teams and hear from them first-hand about their own stories of their involvement. Sadly many of them are no longer with us but the former Head Tapisser (head of the stitchers) – Renée Harvey – was and she was in contact with a number of the people who had been involved in the project and she would arrange a reunion. In October 2017 we visited Exeter for the reunion and to record the round-table conversation that took place. Find out more details and listen to a recording of the conversation.
After the event Renée mentioned she had some home videos she had made of some of the activities that happened during the project. These included first/last stitches being made by local dignitaries, relatives of people depicted in the panels and members of the Royal Family. It also included many examples of the panels on display at events and exhibitions, where donations were made by members of the public. From the many hours of footage Renée had shot we selected some edited highlights.
Included within the contents of these VHS tapes were seven BBC South West packages. These ranged from footage of events to BBC South West News and Spotlight pieces. They included packages featuring the creator of the tapestry Tom Mor, head of stitching teams Renée Harvey and even Princess Anne officially opening Coldharbour Mill Museum where a number of the panels from the New World Tapestry were on display.
We contacted the BBC about the footage and they very kindly searched their archives and supplied us with copies for us to use. Below are the pieces produced and broadcast by the BBC during the 20 years of the project.
They are published here with the kind permission of the BBC. Copyright remains with the BBC.