Medieval festival set to boost town’s tourism

The Paulinus Festival Community Feast at  Central Methodist Church. Picture by Caitlin Morgan
The Paulinus Festival Community Feast at Central Methodist Church. Picture by Caitlin Morgan

ORGANISERS of a major three-day festival hope it can become a major tourist attraction for Todmorden.

Over two thousand people from all corners of the world decended on the town for the launch of the new Paulinus Way pilgrimage route to York and the people behind the festival hope it can give local trade a major boost.

Stuart Clayton, one of the 32-strong team which organised the free event, said: “It went superbly well. The Sunday service by the Bishop was absolutely fantastic. All the events in the church were packed out.

“Events like this are very important to the town and anything that attracts visitors can only be good.

“This is just the opening pilgrimage and it’s continuing forever, hopefully, from now on.

“Next year we’re not putting route maps on the interent, so people have to come to Todmorden to take part in the festival.”

Over the three days, members of the public were treated to a medieval themed feast, community art, street entertainment, a special pilgrim service at St Mary’s Church -in which the former Bishop of Southwark and current Honorary Assistant Bishop of Wakefield, Tom Butler, preached -, a flower trail, a special Paulinus ale and an ultimate Paulinus pie contest.

The event was officially opened by the Mayor of Todmorden, Coun Richard White, who said it was good to see the community come together and celebrate the town’s heritage.

“Any event is good for the town because it will bring tourists in and that can only be good for local businesses,” he said.

“I’m hoping that the Paulinus will concentrate people’s minds on the fact that Todmorden has so much going for it.

“There are some people around that seem to think that any change is a change for the worse, but I think there’s a lot of people around now who want to see Todmorden grow and become more enthusiastic about itself. We need tourists, even if we haven’t got many beds for them to sleep in!”

On Sunday afternoon, the first group of pilgrims departed on the 64-mile journey to York, where they were set to be greeted by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. Among the pilgrims was Paulinus Barnes, from Wrexham, whose great, great, great grandfather from Todmorden was also called Paulinus.

Mr Clayton added: “I can’t thank the people of Todmorden enough.”