Celebrate St Blaise at a wool market in Bradford

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A Wool Market is being held for the second time at Bradford Industrial Museum to celebrate the patron saint of wool-combers, Bishop Blaise and the history of wool in Bradford. The event, which takes place at the Bradford Council-run museum on the feast day of St Blaise, Sunday 2nd February, will have stalls selling woollen yarns, textiles and hand looms, as well as fun family activities including spinning and weaving demonstrations.

Delicious food will also be on offer from Café Maison Express and the Yorkshire Pie Bakery and there will be a pop up pub in the museum which will have beer from Leeds based Sunbeam Brewery, who will be service their specially brewed Blaise Ale. Entertainment will be provided by a local band and choir.

Stalls at the event, which takes place from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, will include local companies selling all manner of knitting gifts. This will include hand-dyed British wool, fibres and equipment for felt making and spinning, luxury and lace-weight yarns, haberdashery, knitting patterns and accessories and products made from alpaca wool. All of this will be alongside the museum’s fantastic displays that tell the story of Bradford’s industrial past. The free event is being organised by Bradford Industrial Museum.

Bishop Blaise is the patron saint of wool-combers. He was a physician and bishop in Sebastea, Armenia and was believed to have lived around the end of the 3rd or early 4th century. People went to him for cures of both spiritual and bodily ailments and he was thought to have also healed animals. He was reported to have been tortured by being flayed using pins from a wool-comb and beheaded because he refused to renounce his faith. Bradford was once known as Worstedopolis due to the number of mills and wool processing businesses, including wool-combers that operated in the district.

Up until 1825 the wool-combers of the district would hold a parade through the city to celebrate their patron saint. It was a four day festival where one of the wool-combers would dress as Bishop Blaise and parade through the town. A new Bradford Woolly Heritage Community Interest Company has been set up to support the wool festival with the ultimate aim to have a major citywide internationally linked celebration of the Bishop of Blaise’s Day in 2025 which will be the 200th anniversary of the last time there was a major celebration of the saint in Bradford. There are two ‘Bishop Blaise’ coats that were worn in the parades in the collection. One is from Bradford and one from Keighley. Some other memorabilia from past parades also be on display. For more information visit www.bradfordmuseums.org

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