The Last Invasion Tapestry Gallery

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June, 2018

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Whether you are interested in local history, textiles and community projects, or exploring Wales, this is a must-see permanent exhibition. Think Bayeaux Tapestry recording the Norman conquests and the Fishguard Tapestry records the last invasion of mainland Britain by the French in 1797, and their resounding defeat at the hands of the women of Fishguard! There is some discussion about whether the myth was historically accurate, but nevertheless it is a fascinating tale. The men of the town were away, assembling to support Thomas Knox and Lord Cawdor, so the women, determined to thwart the French, prepared for battle with pitchforks and other implements.

The invading ships were anchored off-shore, some of the soldiers had landed and managed to get a few miles inland. You may not realise that the rich, red fabric of British soldiers’ uniforms was developed and made in Wales. It is said that as more of the French landed, they were alarmed to see an advancing army much bigger than expected, mistaking local women’s red shawls for soldiers’ uniforms, so surrendered. A treaty was eventually signed at the Royal Oak pub opposite the Town Hall.

The whole story is recorded on 100-foot panel of linen-mix fabric, painstakingly designed and embroidered by 80 local women for celebrations in 1997. It is a brilliant story, and this is a fascinating way to record events. A video also shows how the panel was produced and as 2022 will be another year of celebration, the Last Invasion Team are keen to hear any suggestions for activities or projects that can inspire people to get involved.

While you are in Fishguard, pop in to the Fishguard and Goodwick Heritage Centre nearby to see exhibits related to people, smuggling, sailing activities and a glimpse into the history of this important West Wales port.

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