English: St. Blaise confronting the Roman governor: Scene from the life of St. Blaise, bishop of Sebaste (Armenia), martyr under the Roman emperor Licinius (4th century). Stained glass window from the area of Soissons (Picardy, France), early 13th century.


I am going to try and revive the celebration of Bradford’s Patron Saint: Bishop Blaise (the picture is from the wiki page).

Bradford used to celebrate the feast day of St. Blaise every 7 years on the 3rd Feb.

He was a Bishop reputedly martyred by having his skin ripped off with wool combs, which made him the patron saint of woolcombers, who were the aristocracy of labour in the wool trade. Wool had to be combed before anything could be done with it, and woolcombing was a job for skilled hands longer than almost every other part of the trade.

In the 18th and 19th Centuries Bradford became a wold power in wool, and long stayed the centre of the worsted (or long wool) trade. In their best time woolcombers worked at home and being a rare skill could work when they liked. Their patron saint become Bradford’s, and the day was a day for the whole town.

Even before Bradford had a council the kinds of people who became Bradford Council stopped the festival and never replaced it. 1825 was the biggest ever Bishop Blaise Day in Bradford, but seems to have been the last ever. Woolcombing had become desperate work, machines replaced men and people became mill fodder. The people who controlled Bradford decided the people of Bradford should have no cause for celebration, and St Blaise’s day was choked to death.

I am planning to try an revive the day. The first week of February could do with something to cheer it up, as could Bradford. Next year’s day is a Sunday. I already have a possible show and two businesses already up for doing something. If anyone else is wants to help, or even better do, then get in contact.

From: The Costume of Yorkshire, George Walker, first published 1814. If this picture was in the first edition the year of this celebration was probably 1811.

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