The Axbridge Pageant is a huge historical re-enactment celebrating 2,000 years of our Somerset town’s rich past. It was first performed in 1967 to celebrate the opening of the by-pass along the former Strawberry Line railway. It was such a success it is now held every ten years. In 2010 the cast was some 400 local people. Every decade the event brings our Town’s history to life in a unique open-air costumed drama. The performances are staged in the town’s medieval square and cover life from The Romans to the present day, charting the major events that have shaped Axbridge over the centuries. It is now an institution and has become part of the history of Axbridge itself.
Click on the Tapestry below to expand the detail.
After the 2010 Axbridge Pageant some of the ladies in the sewing team who had met regularly for over two years realised their lives felt a little empty!
And so, in 2012 the Axbridge sewing group was formed. At first the group learnt different sewing techniques from each other. From teenagers to those slightly older? all came to regular meetings sometimes on very dark chilly nights to help, sew and chat. Two girls from the 5th form of the local school joined the group to help with their GCSE and A level subjects.
One of the group suggested depicting the Pageant in Axbridge’s very own version of the Bayeux Tapestry and gradually the idea took shape. For the next five long years, with donations of funds from the local Chamber of Commerce, The Town Council and others, material and haberdashery from the ladies themselves as well as a lot of time and effort, the work was created. None of the group was a professional seamstress and experience varied, but together they produced what you see before you today.
The panels were appliqued with hand and machine sewing over the top. Other techniques such as knitting and hand painting on silk were used. The dates at the top of each panel are embroidered in a variety of colours and show the local flora and fauna of the time. The borders at the top of each panel show items from the 2010 Pageant such as the sewing machines or cameras along with the scene title.
A big thank you to the sponsors whose donations paid for materials along the way, including The Town Council, The 2016 Rumble in the Jumble, The Axbridge Chamber of Commerce and to Maunders in Cheddar for their donation of materials, to the ladies of the sewing group for the time and effort they put in to make the panels, to our lovely framing lady for her generous discount and last but by no means least to the people and businesses in the Town who sponsored the framing of the panels. To Enable MP Ltd who not only sponsored one panel but made a large donation towards others; to ACutAbove who donated the proceeds from their wonderful Christmas raffle as well as sponsoring a frame and to Dr Robin Goodfellow for his generous donation.