The Bristol Tapestry: A Stitch in Time

The Bristol Tapestry was made by a group of local stitchers in the 1970s. It depicts the history of Bristol. The story it tells reflects the time at which it was made.

Listen now

Hear an interview with Sheila Dawkins who worked on the Bristol tapestry in 1976.

The Bristol Tapestry was the idea of Mrs Jean Tanner and Mrs Marjorie Bleasedale in the late 1960s to record important events from the city’s past.

By 1976 the project was complete, having involved over 90 local people. In fact it’s not a tapestry at all, but includes many different embroidery stitches, appliqué techniques and screen printing.

The four panels, which total 22 metres in length, depict nearly 1000 years in 27 scenes. In 1999 the Tapestry came to its present home at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. The events chosen and the story they tell reflect the time at which the Tapestry was made.

all 4 sections of the bristol tapestry

Since 1976, more people have become aware of the negative impacts of Bristol’s participation in and profit from colonisation and the Transatlantic Traffic in Enslaved Africans. A tapestry made today might better reflect the contributions of a wider range of people to Bristol’s history. You can find out more about the rich and diverse history of Bristol at M Shed, the city’s history museum.

If you were to update the story, what would you include?