The King’s River Tapestry

Please be aware that while exhibitions are displayed in the Gallery and for other short periods  access to see the tapestry may not be possible, Please check our news posts to see the dates when access is not available. Click here

A simple idea has become the inspiration for a project to create a tapestry detailing the life of the River Deben and the history of the local area. The project, based in the Longshed, already involves more than fifty people from Woodbridge and surrounding villages.

The tapestry will eventually be over 90 feet long and produced on 30 or more panels.

The story it tells begins in about 400 AD with an acorn buried in the soil by a Jay. Over the next 200 years that acorn grows into a magnificent tree, standing among many others in the forest. King Raedwald sees the tree and wants it, and several of the other trees, for his new royal ship. That ship that is eventually used as a burial chamber for the King at Sutton Hoo.


The story runs on through time and the tapestry depicts events that include the Kings’ baptism by Augustine at Canterbury, The Battle of the River Idle when Raedwald became High King,  Elizabeth 1st and the grave robbers, and images from her time as queen. Then in 1939 Basil Brown excavating the burial mound that unearthed the ghost of the Great Ship.

We already have some beautiful designs and needlework in progress. The images below show some of the work that has been done so far.

The rest of the tale is yet to unfold. The ongoing project, by the Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company, to build a replica of this beautiful ship is in progress in the Longshed workshop.The tapestry will tell the story of the shipbuild, its launch and sea trials.

Then what is to follow? We cannot be sure at the moment. There will be images of the excavations of Raedwald’s village at Rendlesham and a panel detailing Whisstocks Place today. Maybe even more, who knows?