Photo gallery: Norfolk man creates a 135ft wooden version of the Bayeux Tapestry to help cope with his son’s death

Jason Welch has carved a 230ft version of the Bayeux Tapestry. Picture: Ian Burt Jason Welch has carved a 230ft version of the Bayeux Tapestry. Picture: Ian Burt

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
3:28 PM

Created in the 11th century, depicting the Norman conquest of England in 1066, it is regarded as one of the most remarkable and well-preserved picture sources from medieval Europe.

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Factfile

* The Bayeux Tapestry isn’t really a tapestry – it’s an embroidered linen cloth.

* It is about 230ft long.

* It tells the story of the William the Conqueror‘s invasion of England and the Battle of Hastings.

* The Bayeux Tapestry was probably made in England, having been commissioned by William I’s half-brother, Bishop Odo.

* It was discovered in the 18th century hanging in Bayeux Cathedral.

* Wool yarn, coloured by vegetable dyes, was used for the embroidery and the work is divided into 50 panels.

* The tapestry starts with a scene depicting Edward the Confessor sending Harold Godwinson to Normandy, and ends with English troops fleeing the battlefield at Hastings. The appearance of Halley’s Comet is also featured.

* During the French Revolution, the tapestry was confiscated with the intention of using it as a covering for military wagons. Luckily, it was hidden by a local lawyer and kept safe until the troubles were over.

* Charles Dickens was quite critical of the quality of the embroidery. After viewing it, he said, “It certainly is the work of amateurs; very feeble amateurs at the beginning and very heedless some of them too.”

* The arrow sticking out of Harold Godwinson‘s eye in the tapestry would appear to be a later addition.

* About six metres of the Bayeux Tapestry are missing.

* It is though that the Bayeux Tapestry was completed in the 1070s.

And now a Norfolk man has created his own wooden replica of the Bayeux Tapestry, despite having lost three of his fingers in an industrial accident.

Jason Welch, 43, spent two years carving and painting his 135ft wooden scale model of the famous work of art as a way of coping with the death of his 18-year-old son Ricky, who died six years ago.

He spent hundreds of hours working carefully on the intricate details at a workshop in his garden at North Creake, near Fakenham.

Mr Welch, completed the work last month but, due to its size, he is unable to display his work together as one piece and it is gathering dust in the workshop.

He is looking for a venue to exhibit the work and raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital which has been caring for his six-month-old grandson Kaiden Griffin, who has a triple heart defect.

Mr Welch said: “By the age of 37 I had lost my grandfather, father and oldest son.

“I became depressed about everything, so I started this to give me something to focus on.

“I’m really pleased with the way its turned out and it has changed my entire mind-set.

“And when you see these kids happy and smiling at Great Ormond Street, despite everything they are going through, it makes you think you should never feel sorry for yourself.”

When aged 19, and working as a farmer Mr Welch lost four fingers on his left hand in an agricultural machine but had the little finger reattached.

Mr Welch, now a self-employed wood carver, also worked in the building industry.

Pain in his left hand meant he often had to take time off work and he began wood carving as a hobby 15 years ago to fill the time.

He said: “It still causes me pain now and sometimes, when I’d been working on this for hours, my left hand would swell up and I’d just carry on one-handed.”

He added: “It’s a shame it’s all sitting here gathering dust.

“I want to find somewhere where I can put it together for an exhibition and raise money for Great Ormond Street, who do an amazing job, and maybe a local charity as well.”

Mr Welch, who is self-taught, said the idea to create his version of the Bayeux Tapestry was suggested by a friend.

He did it from pictures in a book and has never actually been to Normandy to see it.

Mr Welch said: “I’m going to have to go there and see it for myself now.”

Anyone who can help Mr Welch with a venue for an exhibition, can call him on 01328 738041.

Do you know anyone who is working on an interesting art project? E mail newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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