Diocese of ChichesterDiocese of Chichester

Bosham's unique link to the Bayeux Tapestry

Bosham's unique link to the Bayeux Tapestry

Bosham’s part in English history could take centre stage amid plans to bring the Bayeux Tapestry to UK soil for the first time in 950 years.

The Bayeux Tapestry, currently in Normandy France, depicts the Norman conquest of England, culminating in the Battle of Hastings.

The tapestry is closely linked to Bosham church, which is one of the very few buildings in England portrayed in the masterpiece. As the home of powerful, wealthy King Harold, Bosham’s church and manor house both feature in the first four panels of the tapestry.

Potential homes include the British Museum, Westminster and Canterbury cathedrals, as well as Hastings in East Sussex. However, the tapestry also has a hugely significant direct link with West Sussex as the first four panels feature historic Bosham church.

A perfect replica of the panels can be seen in the church to this day. It was worked by Kathleen Todd, from Nottingham, and given to the church in 1964 in memory of Kathleen’s sister Olive Alchin, who lived in Bosham. The ‘Bosham’ panels are captioned in Latin and read: ”King Edward; here Harold Earl of the English rides with his attendants to Bosham; the Church; here Harold took to the sea”. They not only feature the church but also a house, probably Harold’s manor house.

Bosham vicar the Reverend Martin Lane said the tapestry depicted a significant point not only in the nation’s history but also more locally and ‘this was a story which continues to this day’. Martin said: “I am very excited at the thought of the Bayeux Tapestry coming to the United Kingdom. “Bosham church, where Harold Godwinson worshipped, later King Harold, still remains a place of worship and prayer - a living connection with this most compelling time in our shared history.”

Bosham church archivist Joan Langhorne said there was a strong historical connection between Bosham and King Harold. At the time depicted in the tapestry, Harold was a very wealthy man and the most powerful earl in all England - and his sister was married to King Edward. He owned a great deal of land around Bosham, among other areas, including a large fleet of ships there.

This news item was first published in part in Chichester Observer. Photo courtesy of Chichester Observer