The Guernsey Tapestry is a series of 10 embroidered panels telling the story of the island’s history from 1001 until the present day. It was produced to mark the end of the second millennium.
The first stitch in the whole project was made on 4 September 1996, which was more than two years before it would be completed. The result was put on display in a purpose-built gallery in St Peter Port.
Each panel is 122 x 91cm, and depicts notable events from a single century. They have Guernesiais annotations embroidered into the margins. Earlier panels show the formation of the parishes and the island’s dolmen. The most recent panel depicts the occupation, tourism and the adoption of Guernsey’s flag.
History through the centuries
Between the two there are reminders of aspects from Guernsey’s history that have since been lost. The masthead of The Star, which merged with the Guernsey Evening Press, Victor Hugo’s signature and tomatoes, signifying Guernsey’s one-time cash crop, all appear on panel nine. Stitched by parishioners from St Pierre du Bois, this panel covers the years between 1801 and 1900. Panel six, stitched by Castel, depicts the burning of the Guernsey Martyrs.
Producing the tapestry was originally suggested by Sue Payne and commissioned to Valerie Chandler and over 200 volunteers. Members of the public, drawn from each island in the Bailiwick, could also join in by paying £1 to add their own stitch. Responsibility for each panel was given to a different parish and each one bears the badge of the parish that looked after it. Once completed, they were mounted and preserved for display.