The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


On 27th May Andrew Whitmarsh came to give us a talk about the Overlord Embroidery.

The Embroidery is in the D Day Museum which is open all year round. On 6th June it is free. The Queen Mother opened the museum in June 1984.

The Overlord Embroidery was commissioned by Lord Dulverton of Batsford as a tribute to the sacrifice and heroism of those who took part. Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, it traces in shining, visual form the progress of Overlord, from its origins in the dark days of 1940 to victory in Normandy in 1944.

Sandra Lawrence then aged 21 designed it. She first prepared thumb nail sketches using wartime photographs for reference. These were discussed by a committee set up by Lord Dulverton to guide the making of this splendid work of art. The Committee included a retired senior officer from each of the services, thus being named “ the three wise men”.

Once the sketch was approved, Sandra painted a full size watercolour of it. One for each of the 34 panels, each 8 ft wide. Using these designs the embroidered panels were created by the Royal School of Needlework, around 25 women worked on it over a period of four years. The original watercolours are now hanging in the Pentagon, Washington.

The designs were put on linen by a process known as “pricking and pouncing”. Hundreds of holes were pricked through the lines of a tracing taken from the painting and fine black powder or pounce was rubbed through leaving a trail of dots in the linen. The dots were then joined up and pieces of material matching the colour and shade in the painting were sewn onto the linen to create the panels. More than 50 different materials were used in the making of the embroidery, including fabrics taken from uniforms and headgear of those involved in the three services.

The Overlord Embroidery is an 83 metre long textile tribute to the heroism of those who took part in Operation Overlord, the Allied Invasion of Normandy on 6th June 1944. The start of the embroidery clearly shows what was happening in Britain on the “Home Front”. It shows the building of ships and planes, Womens’ Land Army in the fields and children wearing gas masks.

Priscilla Barlow

Summer Edition 2010

St George’s Ladies Group