St Mary’s Guildhall tapestry surveyed for conservation works

The 16th-century Coventry Tapestry could undergo its first major conservation in over 40 years as part of a wider scheme of works at St Mary’s Guildhall.

Pictured: Coventry Tapestry, manufactured in the early 16th century, depicting the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, including seventy five individual figures.

The famous 16th-century Coventry Tapestry is being considered for extensive conservation works after an expert textile conservator paid a visit recently to view the piece.

The tapestry, well known for being one of the finest preserved tapestries of its size, sits in its original location in St Mary’s Guildhall, recognised as one of the finest medieval guildhalls in the country.

Though visual inspections have been carried out frequently in the past, the last time the tapestry underwent any major conservation is thought to be over 40 years ago.

The glass frontage of the large display case that protects the tapestry was carefully removed by contractors to allow conservator Wendy Toulson to survey the tapestry up-close.

Wendy explained that the tapestry is in “fairly good condition” thanks to previous conservation efforts in the late 1970s and early 1980s at Hampton Court Palace.

She continued: “The main purpose of my visit was to look at the way in which [the tapestry is] displayed and to see if there are improvements that can be made so that people can see this amazing jewel more clearly.”

Such improvements could include modifying the glass frontage or moving the tapestry’s position within the display case.

Following the Wendy’s visit, a report will be prepared detailing the extent of the conservation works required, include the potential for the tapestry to be professionally cleaned.

If approved, work will begin fairly swiftly in the new year.

The conservation efforts are part of a wider scheme that aims to renovate and restore St Mary’s Guildhall, including opening-up of the medieval kitchen, in time for Coventry City of Culture in 2021.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle from Coventry City Council described the scheme as trying to create “somewhere Coventry residents and visitors can all be proud of.”

“It’s no longer Coventry’s best-kept secret. Our ambition is to have an attraction that people from across the country and indeed all over the world know about and want to visit”, he added.