THE ABERGAVENNY TAPESTRY at the Tithe Barn, St Mary's Priory, Abergavenny
The magnificent Abergavenny Tapestry
The Abergavenny Tapestry was designed by Susie Martin and created by a group of over 60 local volunteers, as a way of celebrating the new millennium in 2000. From conception to completion the project lasted some six years, and the stitching alone took three years and ten months to complete – not surprising when you learn that the tapestry is 24 feet (8 metres) wide!
The stitching was carried out in one of the chapels in St Mary’s Priory Church, with each section of the tapestry created on a separate frame, and more than 400 shades of wool were used to create the intricate designs. Visitors to the church were fascinated by the work, and the stitchers often found themselves explaining the proceedings to interested tourists!
The project was a learning curve for everyone involved. Many of those who worked on the project had had no prior experience of stitching, and they were able to learn new skills and make new friends in the process.
Some of the features of the tapestry, which was designed to celebrate 1,000 years of Abergavenny’s history, include:
- St Benedict, founder of the Benedictine Order of monks. St Mary’s Priory, founded in 1087, as a Benedictine priory.
- One of the world’s finest pieces of medieval sculpture, the Jesse Tree is a 15th-century carving of Jesse, the biblical father of King David and ancestor of Christ. It rests in St Mary’s Priory Church.
- Owain Glyndwr, the leader of the Welsh rebellion against the English in the 15th century, who sacked Abergavenny in 1404.
- Sir Harry Llewellyn, the famous showjumper and his horse Foxhunter, who won Olympic gold in 1952.
- The effigy of Margaret, betrothed to John de Hastings at the age of 12. Her pet squirrel is said to have caused her death in a fall from the castle ramparts when she was 13. Her tomb lies in St Mary’s Priory Church.
To find out more about the Abergavenny Tapestry and how it was made, visit our exhibition on the first floor of the Tithe Barn, where you can see the tapestry on display and explore its features in more detail using our specially designed touchscreen interactive.