how the Translation was recorded in the press: illustrated here with original photographs from the Shrine archives
The photographs on this page were not in the newspapers* : they are the Shrine's official photographs of the day (issued in postcard form), and various other pictures surrounding the Translation, taken by Fr Patten and pilgrims before and after the day.
*except the official photograph of the procession about to enter the new Shrine [shown right] which was used in the newspapers and elsewhere.
click on any image to see enlarged picture
if you are not familiar with the layout of the village, Enid Chadwick's 1935 map may help;
THE LITTLE GUIDE: full scanned text of Fr Patten's first guide book to the Shrine, published in October 1931, includes a ground plan and a very detailed description of the building and grounds: particularly useful for this page
Walsingham, in Norfolk, is a quiet village. The grey flint houses, the long, high wall that encloses the ruins of the Priory of the Augustinian Canons, the Common Place, or square, round which stand the old hostelries for pilgrims visiting the shrine of Our Lady, wear the appearance of a long indifference to the passing of time and to the changing of generations. Walsingham has known years of fame and of prosperity, of disrepute and of ruin, and, finally, a time of long neglect.
But, on Thursday of last week, the village street, that winds up from the church, skirting the Priory lands, was prepared for a sight such as has not been seen in Walsingham – nor, I imagine, in any other English village – for centuries. The shrine of our Lady, a copy of the ancient shrine set up before the Norman Conquest and destroyed in Reformation days, was to be carried in solemn procession from the parish church to a new sanctuary. As in old days the shrine had stood in a chapel of its own, so now again a house has been built for it; modelled in the form of the House of Nazareth, where our Lady received the news of the coming of the Saviour of mankind. From ancient times the house and the shrine were given the name of “England’s Nazareth”.
The customary greyness of the village street was transformed. The three hundred people who had come to Walsingham by special train from London, found their way to the church under arches of many-coloured garlands. In the lattices of the cottages hung posies of flowers, and flags and streamers spanned the streets from window to window of the houses and village shops.
Walsingham church, like many of the beautiful fourteenth-century village churches, will hold as many as six hundred people. But when I entered it for the High Mass, which was to precede the translation of the shrine. I found that it was already nearly full, and still there were numbers of visitors, travellers and pilgrims coming from the station. Every seat in the Lady-chapel was taken. The front of the nave was reserved for the eighty priests who had come from parishes far and near. Members of guilds and confraternities filled the remaining seats, and crowds were left standing in the side aisle, in the space round the font, and in the porch at the west end.
In honour of the mystery of the Holy Incarnation, the Mass of our Lady was sung by Bishop O’Rorke, pontificating from the fald-stool. He made his way through the press of the people at the back of the church, and entered the sanctuary, where deacon, sub-deacon and assistant priest awaited him. There, before the altar, he was vested in the full Mass vestments of a Bishop for great occasions – alb, tunicle, dalmatic, chasuble and mitre.
“The Word was made Flesh”. The great truth of the Incarnation of the Son of God, confessed by every member of the congregation in the Eucharistic Creed, was the subject of words spoken by the Rev Ernest Underhill, late vicar of St Thomas, Toxteth, Liverpool, at sermon time. Mr Underhill looked back over seventy or eighty years of the history of the revival of Catholicism in England. At first, he said, some thought that the Catholics of the Movement were lacking in the presentation of the whole faith. But it was in God’s good mercy that progress went slowly. Our fathers did not hesitate to teach the Faith concerning the Blessed Sacrament, nor to remind us that we were a sin-laden people, for whom the Church gave her cleansing Sacrament of Penance. But in the early days of the revival, it is true to say that Mary was hardly known. In God’s good time our Blessed Lady began to hold again her rightful place in men’s esteem. The translation of our Lady’s shrine to the new chapel now was, he said, more than a parish matter: it was something that affected all England. To honour our Lady was to bear witness to that which her meek acceptance of the angel’s message had made possible, the coming of God on earth in human flesh. The sanctuary prepared for her shrine at Walsingham was a reminder to all who entered it of the Home at Nazareth, where Mary nursed the Babe, who was God Almighty.
After Mass, luncheon was given to the pilgrims at the “Hospice of Our Lady, Star of the Sea”. The new chapel stands on a plot of ground adjoining the garden of this Hospice; and before returning to the parish church, for the procession, I went into the new building that was soon to receive the shrine. The chapel is approached through a semi-circular, cobbled courtyard, laid on the foundation of an earlier courtyard discovered when the ground was cleared by the builders. I entered, under an archway, into the outer chapel. This is a shelter in which the “house” itself stands. The ancient building was the same. At the outer doorway I could see how small the “house” was. I looked up and saw that it has a pent roof; the walls were rough; and among the masonry I could see, beautifully diversifying the plain brick, many interesting stones and pieces of carved work that had been sent from many ancient churches, shrines and monastic houses, from Canterbury, from Lincoln, Romsey, Hexham, and even from some foreign foundations. The design was doubtless to symbolise the comprehensiveness of the Catholic religion.
I walked along the south ambulatory, and, looking through the small window (the only window of the traditional home), I saw that I was standing directly opposite to the altar. The interior of the house was very small indeed. The walls were bare and roughly finished off. Candles were burning on a candlestick. Beside this and the altar, with its crucifix and its red and gold hangings, the tiny cottage was quite empty. Above the altar was a niche, into which the figure of our Lady, an exact copy of the original, taken from a seal of the Priory, was to be placed. Then I made my way back to Walsingham church, which I found to be as crowded with people as before. An oration was made by the Rev Alban Baverstock, and this was followed by the service of Benediction. Then the great procession was formed.
As I walked with the other pilgrims along the streets of Walsingham village, I was struck by the thought that here was a memorable meeting of past and present. Nearly a thousand years ago, the first shrine was set up at Walsingham. Now, in twentieth-century England, English people from all over the country had come for the renewing of the sanctuary. The procession – and how like it must have been to the processions of old days, and yet how different! – grew in size as villagers, who had left their work, and late comers joined it outside the church. The cross led the way, then followed Walsingham children, in white, and members of guilds of our Lady, in their blue and white veils. The figure of the Virgin and Child was borne by four deacons of honour, and surrounded by five guardians, Rev A H Baverstock, Rev H J Fynes-Clinton, Rev E H Lury, Rev H Whitby, and Sir William Milner.
Behind the shrine, two by two, in open order, came the long line of eighty priests, each with a lighted candle. Following upon them was the Abbot of Nashdom and Bishop O'Rorke. Now the procession exceeded the whole length of the village street; and still behind the Bishop were great numbers of the laity, some of whom had scarcely left the church. Everyone carried a lighted candle.
The quiet of the ancient village seemed to receive the pilgrims, and to offer to them the calm that dwells upon it – gained, perhaps, through centuries of strife and turmoil. The candles burned with a steady flame, for there was not a breath of air stirring. I wish we could have marched in silence on this solemn occasion, feeling that the time was more fit for prayer than singing. But, as it turned out, silence would have been impossible, for, as the procession passed the Common Place, the pilgrims were greeted with the “No Popery” cries of the Wycliffe preachers. But even so, I thought that the hymns which the pilgrims were singing were unworthy of the solemnity of the pilgrimage. Such crude rhymes and trivial tunes are inappropriate to our Lady’s dignity, and inadequate for the expressions of praise to Almighty God for her.
the chapel was reached, the shrine was placed outside the main door, and
the courtyard was filled with all from the procession
who could find a place there. The rest of the people ranged themselves
outside in the street, where had come the Wycliffe preachers, still vociferous.
The Magnificat was sung, and the shrine was taken into the new
chapel and placed in the niche prepared for it. Then priests and people
together sang the Te Deum. When
my turn came to enter the chapel with other members of the procession,
the impression of calm and austerity, which the village had first given,
was again renewed. In the outer chapel, the altar of the Annunciation
stood bare but for a fair linen cloth and a wooden crucifix. The “house”
within was a blaze of light, and the figure of our Lady, with the Child
in her arms, looked down from above the altar. But as I left the chapel
on the further side, I found myself upon the Via Dolorosa, and walking
along it, past the pent-house Stations of the Cross, I found that it led
up to a hillock, on which stood three great, wooden crosses. Still further,
at the end of the Way, I found that there was built a model of the sepulchre
in which the Saviour was laid. Walsingham was holding its day of solemn
rejoicing. But it called its pilgrims, even as they left the place of
the shrine, to pause and to remember the world’s rejection and crucifixion
of the Divine Son of Mary.
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In the year 1537 the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, famous all over Europe, was desecrated by the orders of Henry VIII. Yesterday, all but three hundred years later, members of that church, which was established in the reign of his daughter Elizabeth, opened once more a replica of that shrine and enthroned within it, with all honour and devotion, another statue of Our Lady of Walsingham. There are few more naturally beautiful places in Norfolk than Walsingham and its surroundings, and the eleventh century founders of the original shrine could not have chosen a more pleasant setting for their renowned place of pilgrimage. A perfect autumn day, with the peaceful wooded vale of the Stiffkey reflecting the autumn sunlight in tints of russet and yellow, favoured the celebrations which accompanied the opening of the re-erected shrine.
Centuries must have elapsed since Walsingham, that Mecca of pilgrims, welcomed so many hundreds of people from all parts of England. It was an impressive witness to the growth of the Anglo-Catholic movement in the Church of England. Clergy in cassocks and birettas, and religious in their black, grey, or brown habits thronged the streets of the little town, which were gay with flowers, evergreens, and bunting. From all over Norfolk and the adjoining counties came contingents of lay folk and clergy, and a special train from London brought another three hundred people.
The new shrine, which replaces one hitherto in the Parish Church, is modelled on the original building destroyed in the reign of Henry VIII. Situated in Knight Street, the outer chapel of brick and plaster with a red tiled roof, encloses an inner chapel, which is a replica of the Holy House of Nazareth at Loreto. On entering the main doors of the outer building one has to pass round to the opposite end to go into the inner sanctuary. Lit by numerous silver lamps suspended from the ceiling, the Holy House has only a tiny window and bare rough walls, but the shrine itself blazes with gilt and colour. Over the top is the inscription in Latin: "The Word was Made Flesh". While the building work was in progress an ancient well, believed to be of the 14th century, was discovered. The outer chapel encloses the well, which is now approached within by a flight of steps. An interesting feature of the inner chapel is that the walls are studded with small stones from many famous shrines, including St Peter's, Rome, St Paul's, Rome, Canterbury and Glastonbury. The stones are mostly pieces of mouldings. The outside of the building has incorporated in its structure stones from various famous monasteries.
A congregation which crowded the parish church to the doors attended the opening service, a pontifical High Mass sung by Bishop O'Rorke, rector of Blakeney. Wearing the crimson cape and cassock of a prelate, the Bishop passed in procession to the altar blessing the people, who knelt as he passed. "Faith of our fathers" was sung while the Bishop was being ceremonially vested. Clad over all in a magnificent chasuble heavily embroidered in gold and wearing a gold mitre, the celebrant began the service, in which he was assisted by the Rev A Hope Patten, vicar of Walsingham, as deacon, the Rev A W Leeds, curate, as sub-deacon, and the Rev Fr Ferrier (Shadwell) , assistant priest. The service throughout was one of elaborate ceremonial, and the sanctuary was bright with candles, which hung in chandeliers from the roof. Among the clergy present, who numbered close on a hundred, were the Lord Abbot of Nashdom, the Rev Lord Victor Seymour, and Fathers Whitley [Whitby] (London), Wodehouse (Oxford) and Lury.
The preacher was the Rev Fr Underhill, late of St Thomas', Liverpool. He said that they were going to do that which in God's good time would help to spread more and more the devotion of Catholics to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and above all to the incarnation of her Divine Son. Men of his age, said the preacher, looked back to the history of seventy or eighty years of the movement, and they saw that God brought forth the old treasures of the Catholic faith, and was presenting them to the generations in which they lived. Some of them used to think that they were lagging in the presentation of the whole of the faith. But it seemed as he looked back that it was in God's mercy that things should go a little bit slowly.
As he looked back and remembered the first glimmers of the Catholic faith, it seemed that Mary was hardly known then. There were, however, certain great things which their forefathers taught them about the Real Presence and the Sacrament of Penance. As time swept on more and more of Catholic truth came back into the minds of men and women in the English Church. Our Blessed Lady began to take that rightful place in men's esteem which for all those years until that vile Reformation Mary had received. So today they were going to do something which would help towards making the worship of Our Lady of Walsingham no longer a parish matter, but something that would be national. That day they were taking her to the new sanctuary that was a copy of the Holy home where was nursed the little Babe Who was God Almighty. From henceforth Mary had come back in to her own to show forth the incarnate life of her Divine Son.
Again in the afternoon the Parish Church was crowded for Benediction. The Rev A Baverstock, of Holy Family Homes, Duxhurst, gave an oration, in which he said that never was there such a benefactress among mankind as the Virgin Mary. Throughout the ages every great victory for Christianity was followed by a new devotion to Our Lady. Today another great danger to Christianity had arisen. They saw a world bitterly hostile to the Christian faith, and to the very fundamental things, such as the Christian home and the Christian institution of holy wedlock, which, no less than the Incarnation and the doctrines that rested upon it, were bitterly attacked. "We are tempted", he added, "to lose heart when the Anglican trumpet seems to give forth an uncertain sound or even to sound rather for the enemy than for the hosts of God. But we must remember that we are told not to put out trust in princes - no, not even ecclesiastical princes - but in God."
The procession which issued from the Parish Church, with the seated statue of the Blessed Virgin upon its throne, was an imposing one. Headed by cross-bearer and acolytes, and incorporating a big contingent of clergy in cassocks and surplices, it must have been at least half a mile long. There was an imposing array of banners, and all in the procession carried lighted candles. At the rear walked Bishop O'Rorke in cope and mitre and the Abbot of Nashdom similarly vested. The pilgrims' hymn, with its refrain of "Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria" was sung to the accompaniment of the Wells Town Band as the procession threaded the streets of the town. A modest estimate put the total number of those in the procession at close on a thousand. Many hundreds of people had gathered to watch. There was no disturbance of any sort, although a party of "Kensitite Wickliffe Preachers", who were present with their van, shouted derogatory comments, addressed particularly to the clergy. The police were present in force and regulated the traffic ably.
At the new shrine a halt was made, and after the statue had been incensed by the Bishop a solemn Magnificat was sung. The statue was then enthroned in the interior shrine and the people filed past. The services concluded with the Te Deum.
. . . . the culminating event must be considered the procession and setting up of the image in the holy house. Picture then a perfect autumn day, with scarcely a breath of air stirring, the trees clothed in glorious tints and in their setting of old Tudor houses and low red-roofed ancient cottages, a procession with over a thousand people walking, each bearing his or her lighted taper; many women in blue veils, little children in white casting their flowers; dark-habited nuns and monks; over a hundred priests in cassock and cotta; the mitred Abbot of Pershore, and Bishop O'Rorke. Behind streamed the many hundreds of other people, all singing the glories of Mary, and in the midst of this throng, high and lifted up upon the shoulders of four clergy in dalmatics, and under a blue and gold canopy fixed to the feretory, sat the venerated figure of Our Lady, crowned with the silver Oxford Crown, and robed in a mantle of cloth of gold.
Around the feretory walked men carrying torches; in front the lay guardians of the shrine who were able to be present; and behind five of the priest guardians, and immediately following them a group of banners from various parishes, and pilgrim banners. The procession passed between streets hung with flags and wreaths of flowers and evergreens, accompanied by singing and the chiming of the bells of the ancient parish church.
When the head of the procession, which was over half a mile long, arrived at the Court before the sanctuary, the bells of Our Lady's chimes rang out. The processionists formed up in semi circular rows on either side of the Porch — first the women in veils, then the nuns, then the monks and the clergy. Finally the Abbot and Bishop reached the entrance to the church, before which rested the image of Mary surrounded by torches and her attendants. The prelate intoned the Magnificat and incensed the Blessed Virgin, at the conclusion of which the feretory was again lifted, and to the strains of the Salve Regina, passed into the Chapel and the Holy House.
Here it was enthroned in the niche prepared above the altar. The relic of the tomb of Our Lady was then placed upon the altar, as well as the casket - containing the golden book, which had been carried in procession by two girls veiled in white. Two deacons then came to the Bishop for a blessing. One remained in the Holy House, while the other went to the entrance of the church, and in both places the Gospel for the Feast of the Annunciation was sung simultaneously. The function concluded with a solemn Te Deum sung by all within and around the Shrine and those standing in the road outside. It took three quarters of an hour for the pilgrims and visitors to pass in quick succession through the Shrine without pausing.
from an unidentified contemporary magazine, reprinted in Walsingham Review number 104 (1991)
autumn weather, the aftermath of a wretched summer, tempted us
to start from London a day early for the dedication of the new shrine
of Our Lady of Walsingham. So, on the morning of October 14th, we set
out from London by car, and having successfully negotiated Camden Town,
Seven Sisters Road, Holloway and Finsbury Park, and passed through Epping
Forest, glowing with autumn tints, we presently turned aside to admire
the glorious Essex church of Thaxted. Thence we made Cambridge just in
time for luncheon, and in the early afternoon approached Ely Cathedral
rising majestically out of the fens. Of course, we were obliged to halt
there and devote some time to the beauty of its architecture. A further
good run brought us to Fakenham, and just as dusk was falling we found
ourselves entering Walsingham: a village of grey flint houses built round
what remains of the ancient Priory of Augustinian Canons. Our first objective
was the Church, where we found a friendly nun putting last touches to
the decoration of our Lady of Walsingham's statue before it departed tomorrow
to its new home. The Lady Chapel looked to us desolate without the gracious
figure of the Mother and Child. But on our way from the Church to tea
at the Hospice of our Lady Star of the Sea, we passed the new shrine and
at once saw that it would be in every way a worthy resting place. The
shrine has been built on a plot of ground belonging to the Hospice. It
has in front a semicircular courtyard, paved with cobblestones, and in
spite of being in reality quite small, the holy house itself looked tall
and imposing against the evening sky. The hour was too late for an inspection
that night, so our visit to the interior had to be postponed till next
day. Later on, walking through the village, we were struck by the decoration
of the streets and houses. Across the principal street hung garlands of
evergreens, flags were everywhere in evidence, while even in the cottage
windows villagers displayed gay bouquets of autumn flowers. These decorations
showed up well against the old grey stone of the square, and the streets
that lead to it. Presently a bright little moon added to the beauty of
the scene, and lighted us on our way to Blakeney, some eight miles distant,
where we were to stay for the night.
When this almost endless stream of pilgrims had passed through the shrine, all adjourned to the Hospice Garden for tea and soon it became necessary for those returning by train to make for the station. Parties by motor-coach and char-a-banc also left as darkness began to fall. It was, indeed the end of a perfect day; and we, who had still leisure before going back to Blakeney, lingered awhile in the garden and paid a visit, with the Abbot of Nashdom as our cicerone, to the house close by lately acquired by the Nashdom Benedictines. And last of all we made a farewell visit to the Shrine, by that time quite empty except for a young religious who was rearranging the many candles placed on prickets by the faithful. A last prayer before the altar, a last look at the face of Our Lady of Walsingham up above, and we too took to the road. The feeling was strong upon us that we had seen and experienced wonderful things that day. No one who had the privilege of being there could surely fail to remember with joy and gratitude the great day of the Feast of St Teresa of Jesus 1931, on which had taken place with such devotion the translation of the statue of our Lady of Walsingham.
more pictures will be added if and when more come to light