Walsingham shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham

Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation, Little Walsingham, Friday Market, Little Walsingham, Združeno kraljestvo

Website of the Sanctuary

011 +44 132 882 02 17

Every day: 9.00am until 4.00pm

The Roman Catholic National Shrine Walsingham

The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham was established in 1061 when, according to the text of the Pynson Ballad (c 1485), Richeldis de Faverches prayed that she might undertake some special work in honour of Our Lady.

In answer to her prayer, the Virgin Mary led her in spirit to Nazareth, showed her the house where the Annunciation occurred, and asked her to build a replica in Walsingham to serve as a perpetual memorial of the Annunciation.

Walsingham shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham

See more Catholic shrines and Basilicas in UK

See more European Catholic Shrines and pilgrimages

See top 15 Catholic shrines around the world

This Holy House was built and a religious community took charge of the foundation. Although we have very little historical material from this period, we know that with papal approval the Augustinian Canons built a Priory (c 1150). Walsingham became one of the greatest Shrines in Medieval Christendom.

The Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham

All Catholic pilgrimages are centred on the Slipper Chapel, where the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham is enthroned. The statue is of course a modern one but has been modelled as closely as possible on the medieval statue.

Our Lady is depicted in traditional style seated on a simple chair of state with the Child Jesus on her knee. She wears a Saxon crown in token of her ancient queen-ship and carries the lily of purity.

Walsingham shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham

The statue is not remarkable in itself but the sincere attempt to recreate the form of the old statue when the only available evidence came from circular pilgrim medallion is praiseworthy, and the result is pleasing and devotional.

It is a thought-provoking statue with theological implications so typical of the Middle Ages. The Child seems to dominate. It is not so much a statue of the Mother with the Child as a statue of the Child with the Mother in the background. The Child holds the Book of Gospels with one hand and with the other seems to shield his Mother from attack.

In recent years Our Lady has been depicted frequently as a lonely young girl. Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima stand alone. Our Lady of Walsingham emphasises her Motherhood and her continual effort to present her Son to the world.

Walsingham shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham

The statue has an importance of its own not only because of its situation at the heart of the National Shrine, but because it is one of the few statues in the world to be crowned in the name of the Pope.

The crowning was during a Marian Year, on 15th August 1954, by Archbishop O’Hara, who was to become Apostolic Delegate to Great Britain. At the same time the women of England presented a costly crown of gold and jewels which is placed on the statue at certain times.

The devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham received a further mark of papal approval during the visit to Britain of Pope John Paul II in 1982. The statue was taken from the Slipper Chapel to Wembley Stadium and occupied a place of honour on the altar while the Pope celebrated Mass in the presence of many thousands of people.

The Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham

All Catholic pilgrimages are centred on the Slipper Chapel, where the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham is enthroned. The statue is of course a modern one but has been modelled as closely as possible on the medieval statue. Our Lady is depicted in traditional style seated on a simple chair of state with the Child Jesus on her knee. She wears a Saxon crown in token of her ancient queen-ship and carries the lily of purity.

The statue is not remarkable in itself but the sincere attempt to recreate the form of the old statue when the only available evidence came from circular pilgrim medallion is praiseworthy, and the result is pleasing and devotional.

It is a thought-provoking statue with theological implications so typical of the Middle Ages. The Child seems to dominate. It is not so much a statue of the Mother with the Child as a statue of the Child with the Mother in the background. The Child holds the Book of Gospels with one hand and with the other seems to shield his Mother from attack.

In recent years Our Lady has been depicted frequently as a lonely young girl. Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima stand alone. Our Lady of Walsingham emphasises her Motherhood and her continual effort to present her Son to the world.

The statue has an importance of its own not only because of its situation at the heart of the National Shrine, but because it is one of the few statues in the world to be crowned in the name of the Pope. The crowning was during a Marian Year, on 15th August 1954, by Archbishop O’Hara, who was to become Apostolic Delegate to Great Britain. At the same time the women of England presented a costly crown of gold and jewels which is placed on the statue at certain times.

The devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham received a further mark of papal approval during the visit to Britain of Pope John Paul II in 1982. The statue was taken from the Slipper Chapel to Wembley Stadium and occupied a place of honour on the altar while the Pope celebrated Mass in the presence of many thousands of people.

Chapel of Reconciliation

Completed in 1982

The building of this Chapel of Our Lady of Reconciliation began in September 1980 to replace an open-air altar. The Chapel was blessed by Cardinal Hume in 1981 at the National Pilgrimage and it was consecrated by Bishop Alan Clark of East Anglia on May 22nd 1982

Typical Norfolk Barn

The style of this Chapel is taken from a typical Norfolk barn. Together with the cloister, the intention was to blend with the simplicity of local farms around the Shrine.

Local Manufacturers

The large roof is supported by steel beams, which also give strength to the atmosphere of prayer. The architects were Michael Wingate and Henry Rolph of the Norwich firm Purcell, Miller and Tritton.

The stained glass was made locally at Langham. The benches and woodwork by Rob Corbett, a local cabinet-maker; the pipe organ was built by Stephen Schumacher of Belgium and the electronic Organ by Norwich Organs and was installed in 1997.

The Altar

The Altar is the focal point of every Catholic Church. Here the Eucharistic Sacrifice is offered. It is made of polished Aberdeen granite, and was a gift of the Union of Catholic Mothers.

During the consecration of the Chapel, the relics of Saint Laurence of Rome (martyred 258), Saint Thomas Becket (martyred 1170), and Saint Thomas More (martyred 1535) were sealed in the altar.

The Tabernacle

To the side of the Altar is the tabernacle. Here, the Sacrament of the Eucharist is reserved for silent prayer and adoration and for the sacrament of the sick. Originally this tabernacle was made for the Chapel at Craig Lockhart College, Edinburgh (1948) and was acquired by the Shrine in 1986.

At Christmas the crib is displayed here for visitors to see the “word made flesh”, the Eucharist that is also contained in the tabernacle.

Noon Mass

The 12.00 noon Mass is the focal point of the Liturgy at the Shrine each day; and each afternoon, there is a period of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar in the Chapel of Reconciliation. This is a blessed time at the Shrine when people can appreciate the peace of Walsingham, for everyone is invited here by Mary who directs them towards Jesus her Son in the Eucharist.

The Mother of God of Walsingham

As part of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of 1984, the icon of “The Mother of God of Walsingham” was commissioned by the Director Fr Clive Birch sm.

Noon Mass

It was painted by Archimandrite David, of the Russian Orthodox community of St. Seraphim, Walsingham. In reminding us of the Eastern tradition, this icon is a call to unity between East and West. Unity between all Christians is the constant prayer of the Shrines in Walsingham.

At the end of the morning procession from the village, the pilgrims gather at the Icon and recite a prayer of dedication written by the late Holy Father. After Benediction in the afternoon, the celebrant moves over to the Icon and it becomes the focus of our prayers for our country when the Prayer for England is recited and the Marian Anthem proper to the liturgical season is sung.

Open Air

When the number of pilgrims exceeds the capacity of the Chapel, the panelling at the back of the sanctuary can be opened up and the altar becomes the focal point for pilgrims gathered in the Shrine grounds. The Celebrant on these occasions faces out towards the crowd gathered in the grounds.

The Shrine really comes to life with large pilgrimages and the atmosphere is one of great activity and joy. The altar calls these large groups into unity for the Eucharistic gatherings and Sacraments of Christ.

The Slipper Chapel (Shrine)

Built in the mid-14th century, and dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria, this chapel served pilgrims on their way to England’s Nazareth. Saint Catherine was the patron saint of pilgrims to the Holy Land and her knights kept open the road to Nazareth during the Crusades.

Her tomb lies in the Monastery on Mount Sinai, within the Basilica of the Annunciation. Just as on Mount Sinai, Moses took off his shoes because he was on holy ground, so the pilgrims to England’s Holy Land used to remove their shoes and walk the Holy Mile into Walsingham.

Cow shed?

After the Reformation, the Chapel was used as a poor house, a forge, a cow shed and a barn. It was restored to the Catholic Church in 1896 by Charlotte Pearson Boyd.

The Altar and Shrine in the Slipper Chapel

The first Mass since the Reformation was celebrated here in August 1934 and on 8th September 1938 the Shrine was re-consecrated by Bishop Youens of Northampton.

Chapel Imagery

As well as the Statue of Our Lady, several images of Mary decorate the Slipper Chapel. Over the altar is the east window, the work of Geoffrey Webb in 1953 to commemorate the definition of the Dogma of the Assumption of 1950. The centenary window of the Annunciation is over the doors at the west end.

The Reredos

As well as the Statue of Our Lady, several images of Mary decorate the Slipper Chapel. Over the altar is the east window, the work of Geoffrey Webb in 1953 to commemorate the definition of the Dogma of the Assumption of 1950. The centenary window of the Annunciation is over the doors at the west end.

Outside

Over the West door of the Chapel below the image of the Holy Trinity, are the statues of Mary and the Archangel Gabriel, (given by Chorley K.S.C in 1958), reminding us of the words of the 15th century Pynson ballad of Walsingham: “Where shall be had in a memorial the great joy of my Salutation”

The Cloister garden

In the Cloister Garden is the Holy Water fountain, with its centrepiece, the baptismal font from the disused church of Forncett St. Mary, near Norwich. The four panels, depicting events in scripture in which water is given a special prominence are:

Moses and the Red Sea with the Hebrew text from Exodus 15:19 The Israelites went on dry ground right through the sea”
The Good Shepherd with the Latin text from Psalm 22 ”He led me beside restful waters”
The Baptism of Jesus with the Greek text Luke 3:22 “This is my beloved son”
The woman at the well with the English text John 4:14 – “I will give you living water”
The Easter ceremony of the Blessing of the Font is celebrated here and occasionally, the Sacrament of Baptism. The Font is much used by pilgrims to fill their bottles with Holy Water to take away with them.

Cardinal Bourne

In the cloister, is a bust of Cardinal Bourne who was prominent in the re-establishment of the Shrine in 1934 and led the first great pilgrimage of over 10,000 people in that year.

Permanent Exhibition

There is also a permanent exhibition illustrating the history of the Shrine since 1061. Also within the cloister is the Mass Intentions Office, a Gift and Bookshop and a Tea room, much sought after by weary pilgrims and visitors.

Way of the Cross

The 14 oak crosses of the great Cross-carrying Pilgrimage of 1948 form a Way of the Cross in the Shrine grounds. There is a notice listing the places they were carried from and the distances covered.

The 15th Station (The Resurrection) was carried by the Bletchley youth walkers in 1982, and is near the road-side door of the Chapel of Reconciliation.

Walsingham is approached by road from the West (King’s Lynn), the South (Swaffham) or the East (Norwich) and is five miles from Fakenham. The Roman Catholic Shrine is 1.3 miles south of Walsingham, in a hamlet called Houghton St. Giles.

If you are starting your visit at the Shrine you do not need to go into Walsingham.

(If you are using GPS / sat nav – see below).

FROM KING’S LYNN

Follow the A148 to Fakenham (approximately 17 miles).
At roundabout just before Fakenham turn left, then left again after 300 yards on to the B1105 which is signposted Walsingham.

FROM NORWICH

Follow the A1067 towards Fakenham.
Turn right at the first roundabout, straight on at the next roundabout (Morrison’s), and then left at the third roundabout onto by-pass (A148).
After about one mile turn right on to B1105 to Walsingham.
FROM LONDON AND THE SOUTH

Leave the M11 at Junction 9 (Newmarket, Norwich).
Take the A11 towards Newmarket, this then merges with the A14, after 6 miles follow the sign A11 (Thetford, Norwich).
At Barton Mills roundabout continue on the A11 (3rd exit) for 11 miles following the signs for Swaffham (A134). At the 3rd roundabout, take the first exit for A134. After 6.5 miles at the roundabout in Mundford, take the 3rd exit (A1065 Swaffham).
In Swaffham turn right at the mini roundabout through the Market Square sign posted Cromer, Fakenham A1065 (A148).
By-pass Fakenham to the King’s Lynn-Fakenham road (A148).
Cross over roundabout; turn left after 300 yards on to B1105, which is signposted Walsingham.
Once you have turned onto the B1105 proceed for 0.5 mile, then turn left, road signposted B1105 Wells, Walsingham (avoiding width limits) and with Brown and White signs to Holkham Hall. Signs saying Roman Catholic Pilgrimage.
PREFERRED COACH/CAR ROUTE TO THE SHRINE:

Carry on along this road for 3 miles, at a small crossroads in a dip, turn right (finger posted North Barsham). This cross roads is immediately after signs for “Roman Catholic Shrine, Slipper Chapel”. “Roman Catholic Pilgrimage”.

(At present there are no “council signs” to the Shrine from this road.)

You are now on a country lane (NR22 6AS), carry on for 1 mile – the road bends to the right (converted farm buildings immediately in front of you). Take the road to the left sign posted to the “Slipper Chapel and R.C. Shrine”. The Shrine is 0.5 mile further on, on the right hand side.

The village Coach Park is accessed from the Shrine via the Holy Mile, turning left when you reach the outskirts of the village at the T-junction, and then turning left into the Coach Park at the signs. Please do not use the High Street if traveling in a private coach.

GPS / SAT NAV

If you are using gps/sat nav – some systems take you along roads close to the Shrine that are not suitable for motor vehicles – such as Grays Lane which has a deep ford. To use the recommended route to the Shrine, please use the postcode NR22 6AS – then follow the road signs. (NB This is not the Shrine’s postcode but gives the best route).

TRAVEL INFORMATION

Rail – the nearest rail stations are Norwich and King’s Lynn (c30 miles away)

Buses – Traveline 0871 200 22 33 or www.norfolkgreen.co.uk

NB National Express has cancelled its service to Fakenham. You can get to Norwich or King’s Lynn which are both about 30 miles away. Online booking prior to day of travel is usually cheaper – check their website for details.

Taxis – Elite Travel (01328) 821812 or Tiny’s Taxis (01328) 888888

WEEKDAYS

  • 8.15am – Angelus and Morning Prayer – Church of the Annunciation
  • 10.00am – Procession to the Shrine
  • 12 noon – Angelus and PILGRIM MASS – Chapel of Reconciliation
  • 3.40pm – Evening Prayer – Church of the Annunciation
  • 8.00pm – Pilgrim Service – Church of the Annunciation

WEEKENDS

  • 8.15am – Angelus and Morning Prayer – Church of Annunciation
  • 10.00am – Procession to the Shrine
  • 12 noon – Angelus and PILGRIM MASS – Chapel of Reconciliation
  • 6.00pm – Evening Prayer – Church of Annunciation
  • 8.00pm – (SATURDAYS ONLY) Pilgrim Service – Church of Annunciation

After the Reformation

In 1538, the Reformation caused the Priory property to be handed over to the King’s Commissioners and the famous statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was taken to London and burnt. Nothing remains today of the original shrine, but its site is marked on the lawn in “The Abbey Grounds” in the village.

After the destruction of the Shrine, Walsingham ceased to be a place of pilgrimage. Devotion was necessarily in secret until after Catholic Emancipation (1829) when public expressions of faith were allowed.

The Chapel is restored

In 1896 Charlotte Pearson Boyd purchased the 14th century Slipper Chapel, the last of the wayside chapels en-route to Walsingham, and restored it for Catholic use.

In 1897 by rescript of Pope Leo XIII, the sanctuary of Our Lady of Walsingham was restored with the building of a Holy House as the Lady Chapel of the Catholic Church of the Annunciation, King’s Lynn.

Pilgrimages begin again in 1897

The Guild of Our Lady of Ransom, brought the first public pilgrimage to Walsingham on 20th August 1897. Visits to the Slipper Chapel became more frequent, and as the years passed devotion and the number of pilgrimages increased.

The National Shrine of Our Lady for Roman Catholics in England

On 19th August 1934, Cardinal Bourne and Bishop Lawrence Youens led the Bishops of England and Wales, together with 10,000 pilgrims to the Slipper Chapel. At this pilgrimage, the Slipper Chapel was declared to be the National Shrine of Our Lady for Roman Catholics in England.

During the war years

Walsingham was a restricted zone and closed to visitors, but many service men and women showed interest in the Shrine. On May 17th 1945, the American Forces organised the first Mass in the Priory grounds since the Reformation.

The first Student Cross Pilgrimage

This and the great Cross Carrying Pilgrimage for Peace, Penance and Prayer in 1948 began traditions that continue today. Each year Student Cross still walk to the Shrine during Holy Week.

Since 1968, the Marist Fathers have had the care of the shrine and, with the Marist Sisters and others, are responsible for the ministry to pilgrims.

The Slipper Chapel statue goes to Wembley

During the Visit of Pope John Paul II to England in 1982, the Slipper Chapel Statue was taken to Wembley Stadium and was carried around the stadium prior to the Papal Mass preceeded by The Director of the Roman Catholic Shrine (Fr Clive Birch sm) and the Administrator of the Anglican Shrine (Rev Christopher Colven).

More modern developments

The Shop, cafe and offices at the Shrine were developed in 1988 and a font was installed in the cloister area. Later developments have improved the facilities for the Mass intentions office in the cloister behind the Font.

The Annunciation window

In 1997 there were celebrations to mark the centenary of the first post-reformation pilgrimage which took place on 20th August 1897. One of the lasting legacies of the centenary celebrations is the Annunciation Window in the Slipper Chapel which was a gift of the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom, whose forebears had organised the 1897 pilgrimage.

Pilgrimages today

The Shrine now attracts some 100,000 pilgrims during the pilgrimage season with about 30 Major Pilgrimages from Catholic, Diocesan or Ethnic groups and Catholic Societies or Associations as well as many parish groups. At present our largest Pilgrimage is that of the Tamil community each July which attracts about 6,000 pilgrims, some being Christian and some Hindu in faith.

The RC parish church of the Annunciation 

In April 2005 the local RC Parish Church of the Annunciation (a 1950’s temporary structure) in Walsingham village was demolished, and a beautiful new Church with twice the capacity built on the site. Because of its use by pilgrims resident at Elmham House, the Roman Catholic accommodation, the Shrine was instrumental in raising a great deal of the £1,345,000 needed for this project.

Posted in UK