NEWS
17/01/2018 07:19 GMT | Updated 17/01/2018 12:08 GMT

Bayeux Tapestry Could Head For Britain After Emmanuel Macron 'Agrees To Loan'

The artwork hasn't left France for 950 years.

Christophel Fine Art via Getty Images
The French president has reportedly agreed to loan the The Bayeux Tapestry to Britain

The Bayeux Tapestry could be put on display in Britain following reports French president Emmanuel Macron has agreed to allow the artwork to leave France for the first time in 950 years.

The tapestry, nearly 70 metres (230ft) long, depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror against his opponent Harold, Earl of Wessex, and culminates in the Battle of Hastings.

According to The Times, Macron is expected to announce the loan of the artwork when he meets Theresa May at Sandhurst on Thursday.

The paper said the director of the Bayeux Museum in Normandy - where the tapestry is currently based - confirmed preparations were under way for the embroidery to be re-located, but said tests would need to be carried out to make sure it could be moved without being damaged.

Christophel Fine Art via Getty Images
A scene from the 70m long tapestry shows a fleet sailing towards England

The location for the display in Britain is not thought to have been decided and it could take five years before it reaches British shores.

AFP reported Wednesday morning that the tapestry would not be displayed in the UK before 2020. 

A spokesperson for Macron told reporters in France that the tapestry could not travel before that date because of the need for restoration work to ensure it is not damaged in transit.

“This loan is under consideration, because there will be several months of restoration work at the Museum of Bayeux,” the spokesperson said. 

“It will not be before 2020 because it is an extremely fragile cultural treasure which will be subject to major restoration work before being transported anywhere.”

The British Museum said Wednesday that it would be “honoured and delighted” to display the Bayeux Tapestry if it comes to the UK.

Museum director Hartwig Fischer said: “This would be a major loan, probably the most significant ever from France to the UK.

“It is a gesture of extraordinary generosity and proof of the deep ties that link our countries.

“The Bayeux Tapestry is of huge importance, as it recounts a crucial moment in British and French history, 1066.”

Fischer added: “We would be honoured and delighted to display it at the British Museum, the UK’s most visited and internationally respected institution.

“Here it would be seen by the widest UK and international audience in the context of a museum of world cultures.”

The tapestry last left Normandy to be put on display in Paris in 1804 and briefly at the Louvre in 1944 before being returned to Bayeux.

The French President will hold talks with the Prime Minister at the UK-France summit, which a spokesman said would highlight cross-Channel co-operation on issues such as climate change, air pollution, cyber threats and the human genome.

The tapestry is currently on display in a darkened room in the Bayeux Museum in Normandy.