THE OVERLORD EMBROIDERY

Every year we meet up with friends, taking it in turns to choose the venue for a long weekend. When Portsmouth was chosen I was thrilled to think I may get to see the above. I felt it to be serendipity when our hotel turned out to be opposite the museum in Southsea where it is housed. Not wishing to subject our friends to my hobby we decided to visit on the morning of our return to Devon. When our friends heard this over our last breakfast they all said they too would like to come. So off we went.

The Overlord Embroidery was commission in 1968 by Lord Dulverton as a tribute to and a record of the effort made by the Allies to liberate Europe. It traces the planning and execution in amazing historical detail of Operation Overlord, from Britain’s darkest hour in 1940 during the blitz and bombing, to the victory in the Battle of Normandy in August 1944. It does not glorify war, it is a pictorial record of what occurred.

The Embroidery consists of 34 panels, each eight feet long and three feet high. It measures 272 feet in length and is, I believe, the largest work of its kind in the world. It is 41 feet longer than the Bayeux Tapestry, of which it could be said it is the modern counterpart.

It took 20 ladies of the Royal School of Needlework five years to sew. There is a dedicated area showing the work in progress at different stages of completion, very interesting. Although there is lots of embroidery on it, it is actually appliqued then edged with fine cord or thread.

It was originally housed in the London headquarters of the Whitbread Brewery but now has a purpose built museum in Southsea. There is lots more to see and the men wondered off to see the tanks etc. We had to finally drag ourselves away to start our journeys home. Everyone said how much they had enjoyed it and it was the highlight of the trip. I was very pleased.

If you get the chance do go to see it. It really is a stunning work of art.

Susan Enderson

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