Thomas Tallis – a person of Waltham Abbey

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1585 of Thomas Tallis, considered one of England’s greatest early composers and having a most important place in the development of English sacred music.

During his working life he saw four monarchs, and the religion changed several times between Catholic and Protestant, yet he managed to survive.

For a period Thomas Tallis was organist at the Augustinian Great Abbey of Waltham until its dissolution in 1540 under Henry VIII.   Today we in the town of Waltham Abbey remember one of the most important people to have lived here.



New information found on the Bayeux Tapestry

We have found a very interesting report on the website about recent findings concerning the Bayeux Tapestry.

A researcher at the University of Manchester, Alex Makin who is a professional embroiderer, has examined the back of the embroidery and has concluded it is likely that the same group of people worked on it under the supervision of the same person.    Until now it has been believed that a group of women, probably nuns, worked in different places throughout England and then the nine sections of embroidered linen panels were stitched together and more embroidery hid the joins.   Mrs Makin has also discovered from the way the stitches overlap in what order the different parts were sewn, that the outlines were stitched first and then filled in with colours in a set order.   But it is still not known how many women worked on it, who they were, or where they worked.

The Tapestry is more than 900 years old and is 70 metres long.   It is on display at the Museum of William the Conqueror in Bayeux.   It is not technically a tapestry as the embroidered cloth was not woven.   Mrs Makin has said that the style of work is consistent throughout and of a high standard.

The article goes on to quote Sylvette Lemagnen, Curator of the Bayeux Tapestry, who said: “I am delighted with this study, which I believe to be fundamental to the understanding of the Bayeux Tapestry.   I have always been convinced that historians would benefit from establishing a dialogue with specialist embroiderers and Alexandra Makin has that rare quality of being expert in both fields.   Her detailed, impartial analysis of the back of the tapestry has helped to correct misunderstandings of how the Bayeux Tapestry was made.”

Sylvette is well known to us and visited Waltham Abbey with three of her colleagues for King Harold Day in 2006.   Our Vice Chairman, Isabelle Perrichon, who is French maintains telephone links with Sylvette and visited the Bayeux festival at her invitation.

The full story can be read here.