The Towton Tapestry Group was set up on the 15th October 2012 by members of the Towton Battlefield Society (TBS) to undertake a long term creative project run and produced by TBS members, with inspiration and input from the local community. The aim of the project is to create an embroidered artwork (‘tapestry’) reflecting the interests and passions of TBS members and the local community which can be displayed in many locations for the pleasure of visitors.
A ‘design team’ spent many meetings discussing the style and content of the tapestry. What was initially planned as a long piece of work (similar in style and width to the Bayeux Tapestry), evolved into a large, single panel showing key elements of the battle.
The ‘tapestry’ involves TBS members with varying skills and abilities in sewing and includes applique and uses a specific embroidery style used in the 15th Century but famously associated with the Bayeux Tapestry.
The tapestry represents the different elements of the Lancastrian and Yorkist armies, for example archers, billmen, men at arms, hand gunners, nobility, household retainers and common soldiers.
The materials to be used were sourced and a colour palette chosen that reflected those that might have been seen on the battlefield in 1461.
Rather than work on the piece as a whole, we chose to work in smaller sections consisting of a single figure or small group of figures.
Each figure / group of figures is ‘colour coded’ with reference to the colour palette and known livery colours. At our regular meetings, ‘kits’ are made up with the design, a piece of linen and woolen threads in the colour needed for that piece.
Members then take pieces away to complete in their own time and once finished, trimmed and hemmed so that they are ready to be appliqued onto the large panel.
Figures are either Lancastrian or Yorkist (or neutral) and accordingly, are sewn with subtle differences. Each Lancastrian figure is outlined in a dark grey, each Yorkist figure is outlines in dark brown. 2 colours were chosen for the armour in order to make the different parts clearer, as well as giving the embroiderer a change of colour! We have found however that, like those historical embroiders, some shades are easier to sew in natural light!
Materials Used in Tapestry
A good quality, natural linen was chosen from a number of samples as the base and main panel fabric. Crewel wool is used for each figure and for the simple background lines that indicate the terrain and Cock Beck.
After appliqueing each piece onto the main panel, final details will be added directly onto the tapestry such as arrows and snow.
At the moment, we are in the process of hemming the finished pieces and appliqueing these into their final position, a process which allows us to tweak the overall design if we wish and may even involve adding new designs if the members of the group feel that these are needed. The border is worked separately from the main design, incorporating everyone’s ‘practice roses’ and is in progress too.
It is hoped that the Towton Tapestry will be treasured by the Society and kept for years to come.
For more information, please visit the Towton Tapestry Group on Facebook for our progress https://www.facebook.com/Towton-Tapestry-Group-447462328628859