Short historical notes of the bobbin lace of Vila do Conde

(adapted version of the BLEN page)

May, 4 - The lace making trade is subject at the town council meeting. This is the oldest reference to the Vila do Conde Bobbin Lace. This registration also corresponds to the recognition of the economic interest of this activity.

According the town council book 18, of the Vila do Conde town hall archive, the lace makers contributed for the "Corpus Christi" procession. This fact showed that this activity had a big economic importance in Vila do Conde.

May, 24 - The king, "D. João" edited a law to forbid the use of the lace which caused serious damages for the bobbin lace manufacture.
June, 19 - The Vila do Conde town council decided to argue against this law. "Joana Maria de Jesus" a Vila do Conde lace maker, went to the court, to represent the lace makers centers of the north of Portugal, in order to expose to the king how this law could affect a lot of families in the north.
September, 19 - As a result of the diligences of "Joana Maria de Jesus" the king published an edit to diminish the damage of the previous law.

April, 21 - The king "D. José" edited a new charter which determined that the use of bobbin lace was free.

The Vila do Conde bobbin lace is at the Paris world exhibition.

September, 3 - According with the care of the first republic with the education, the "Dr. Domingos Ramos" a Vila do Conde judge, published a work where he defended the creation of an industrial school related with the bobbin lace.

May, 10 - By the edit 5.787 -2X, the comunications and comerce ministry, created the bobbin lace school of Vila do Conde, that was later nominated of "Baltazar do Couto Bobbin Lace Industrial School". Between the directors of this school we can mention the "Prof. Ruy Moraes Vaz", an important person that with "Fernando Pessoa" created in 1924 the art review "Athena". "D. Julieta Castro" a brilliant lace maker, was the first schoolmistress.

March, 22 - The Vila do Conde industrial and comercial association organized in Lisbon a bobbin lace exhibition. This event was inaugurated by the Portuguese republic president "General Carmona". At the same time the ethnologist "Luís Chaves" made an important conference about the bobbin lace. Four bobbin lace exhibitors were represented in this show: "Casa Laura Estrela e Irmã, D. Leopoldina Leal, D. Conceição da Cruz Gomes and Casa Flores"

An inquiry made to the lace industry, asked by the economic ministry, reveals that in Vila do Conde about 5 hundred lace makers exist.

The 1st national handycraft fair of Vila do Conde is organized. This event marks the change of the descending tendency of the handycraft production, especially the bobbin lace production.

The Vila do Conde town council made an inquiry which showed that the number of the lace makers was about one hundred, and that their age was too high.

July, 3 - The opening of the Vila do Conde handycraft center, an important moment for the bobbin lace. In this center the bobbin lace found a place for constant trade.

June - The tourism municipality comission organized the 1st Vila do Conde bobbin lace contest, called "Joana Maria de Jesus" contest. This event was a great sucess, and the objective was the increase of the bobbin lace production.

Is created the Vila do Conde patrimony and handycraft association, to take care, preserve and promote the Vila do Conde handycraft.

At the restaured "Casa do Vinhal" the Vila do Conde bobbin lace museum and the bobbin lace school opened to the public. A new inquiry made by the town council showed that the number of lace makers increased about 30% only at the historical center.

November, 7 - The town council did an homage to the Vila do Conde women, with a beautiful sculpture of Ilidio Fontes, put at the "Cais das Lavandeiras".

The Vila do Conde Bobbin Lace Museum
To meet the past - To prepair the future

The oldest vinhal house, situated at the "Rua de S. Bento" (S. Bento Street), is a traditional Minho urban house, with familiar size, but very pretty, and it was very well restored in 1991 by the Vila do Conde city council. The city council policy goes through the recuperation of several buildings, to install some services like museums, and cultural centres at the historical center to fix the population and provide urban resources. In Vila do Conde the bobbin lace museum is at the city historical center heart, and it is just one of the complex of museums which compose the municipality museum, each one with a single particularity of the local culture. In the museum building is also functioning the Vila do Conde bobbin lace school which is the guarantee of the future of this tradition.


Since 1991 the Vila do Conde bobbin lace museum developped several activities, which promote the traditional art of the bobbin lace, and open new ways for this art.
We did several bobbin lace ateliers with Belgium and Chec Republic Lace Makers in which the Vila do Conde lace makers contacted with diferent realities.
With the support of the Europeen Founds the lace makers went to Belgium where they saw some bobbin lace centers and schools.
The Museum also work with the local and national schools, doing visits and givin informations about the bobbin lace.
At the museum we also promote some music concerts.
At the museum we do all kind of lace with lace makers which are everyday at the museum demonstrating how the bobbin lace is done.


In April of 1919 by the Governement edit 5.787 - 2X , was created in Vila do Conde the arts and offices school Baltazar do Couto. This institution was founded to develop the bobbin lace teaching. In 1926 Rui Morais Vaz was transfered to this school as its director. This man devoted a great care to the bobbin lace developement. He created new and recovered old paterns.
Some of the directors of this school were Rui Vaz, Helena de Bourbon e Meneses, Manuel Rodrigues, Maria Amélia Cardoso, Margarida Neves, Maria de Sousa e Silva and Luisa de Azevedo Alves. We can not forget an important schoolmistress - Julieta de Castro Estrela, who followed the creating of this school, teaching hundreds of Vila do Conde ladies at the bobbin lace art.

To visit the Museum

Open every day
9.30am - 19.00pm

Museu das Rendas de Bilros de Vila do Conde
Rua de S. Bento, 70
4480-781 Vila do Conde