Friends of Walsingham Occasional Paper
Letter from the Revd The Administrator
My dear Friends
[long description of Fr Stephenson's recent trip to America ...]
At the end of the week I went down to Sheboygan for the tenth Annual Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham there. Sheboygan is a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan; and Grace Church, which has the image of Our Lady over the Lady Chapel Altar, is a very handsome church which has a long tradition of good music; and certainly the choir, under Donald Frazee, whom I met some years ago when he was in England, sang superbly at the pilgrimage functions. Fr Sweetser, the rector, had taken enormous trouble to make the pilgrimage a moving experience and the people of the parish had all co-operated so that the pilgrims were fed in a princely fashion. As I came out of the rectory that morning a party were coming down the street led by their priest and all singing the Walsingham Hymn and immediately I felt at home. As the buses set off for their homeward journey Bishop Brady came into each one and gave them his blessing and I thought what a wonderful thing it was to have a Diocesan not just allowing, but whole-heartedly supporting a pilgrimage of this kind; and I confidently hope with his encouragement the Shrine at Sheboygan will become an even greater centre of Devotion.
Next day I spoke at a meeting of the Maryland Catholic Clerical Union and then I moved on to St Clement’s, Philadelphia, and stayed with Fr Elwell and was able to make my devotions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Clemency. Canon Elwell is an honorary Guardian of the Shrine and was Rector of Grace Church, Sheboygan when the pilgrimages there were started ten years ago.
St Clement’s is a very beautiful Church and although it has been robbed of its parish, like so many city Churches, it still has a devoted congregation who are prepared to travel a long way to worship there.
Sir William Milner
Sir William Milner, of Appletreewick, Skipton, the renowned architect, and one of the re-founders of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, died last week. He was sixty-six.
The Master of Lauderdale writes: “Sir William Milner’s enormous figure will be best remembered in relation to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. To the Mother of God he had, since youth, a deep and quiet devotion, a quality which marked his life in other respects – his passion for flowers, especially rare rock plants, his quiet enjoyment of the Yorkshire moors where he made his home, the solace that he found in solitude.
“He first met the Rev A H Hope-Patten in 1924 and through the friendship which they quickly formed he became, almost literally, the re-founder of the Shrine of Our Lady. Milner had promised Fr Patten material support in his endeavours to revive devotion, which began by restoring an image of Our Lady to the parish church.
“When in due time the Bishop of Norwich required it to be removed, he agreed that it could be housed in a special church built for the purpose, and what is now considered to be a revival of a Royal peculiar of the Middle Ages went forward.
“The problem was to find a site, the more so as land in the village was scarce and the original site of the shrine was not known. In the event some allotment grounds came into the market and were bought by Milner. When work began on restoring the Holy House, foundations that correspond exactly to Erasmus’s description of the original shrine were found.
“Milner, although he believed these to be the original foundations, was too careful an antiquary to assert that there was any proof of this; but one of the great joys that sustained his subsequent life was the conviction that he had been the instrument of buying back for God’s use ground hallowed after the Vision of Richeldis in 1061.
“That he should not have been allowed to live for the ninth centenary seems strange to the rest of us; but he lived so see such great advances that as he looked back on nearly thirty years’ work for Walsingham he stood amazed. His firm were architects for the Shrine church, a building of great beauty; yet at the time the Holy House was restored some questioned whether they ought even to build its outer covering to the roof height of the church intended to replace it. He found the money for that and it was he who urged the church should be as large as it was. A year ago he was discussing how it could not be doubled in size and blaming his own lack of vision for consenting in the ‘thirties to something so small.
“His home at Parcevall Hall, on the Yorkshire moors, was ever intended as a sort of retreat. He found the buildings, as a derelict grange of Fountains Abbey, restored them with consummate taste, added a chapel, and surrounded it all with one of the most extraordinary rock gardens in Western Europe. From rough moorland he grew fine trees and gracious flowers. They symbolised what lay nearest his heart, a profound devotion to the Lord and to his Mother.”
(Reproduced by permission from The Church Times of 8th April 1960)
Among the many visitors to Walsingham this summer there has been an unusually large number of priests, some of whom helped in the Shrine and also in St Mary’s during Fr Roe’s holiday. Fr Greenacre was here for four months and is now going to be chaplain at Summerfields, the well known preparatory school in Oxford where Mr [Harold] Macmillan and Monsignor Knox were once pupils. Fr Ashwin, who gave his services during Holy Week and Easter, when for the first time all the Ceremonies took place in the Pilgrimage Church, is likewise going to be a school chaplain and is following in the steps of Bishop O'Rorke at King’s College, Taunton. Fr Allan, having resigned from his living in Saba, has come to live in the College, complete with printing press and photographic equipment which will be a great asset to our work. We also have Fr Buttolph here on furlough from St Kitts. He will be remembered by many old pilgrims as “Robert”, as he was often in Walsingham before he went out to the West Indies to be ordained.
The Hospice was not quite as crowded as usual for the feast of the Assumption, owing to the counter attraction of Oberammergau; and while we welcome with open arms all those who have not spent the festival with us before, we cannot help missing others who used to come year by year at this time. The parish Garden Fête was held in the Abbey Grounds. It was a happy and successful afternoon, in spite of certain misgivings that our efforts might be overawed by these large surroundings; and about £190 was raised.
Cells of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham are still increasing and we now have three more: at St Mildred’s, Canterbury; St Mary Magdalene’s, Sunderland; and St Peter’s, Portland, Oregon.
Those who have anything to do with winter Bazaars might like to be reminded that they can have a good supply of Christmas cards at greatly reduced prices. They should write to the Shrine Office, and a selection will be sent. We generally bring out a new card every year, and this year there will be in fact three.
Work in the Shrine office, to say nothing of the postage, is greatly helped when members of all our associations promptly tell us of changes of address.
Whit Monday is a very special day in the Walsingham calendar when pilgrims from all over the country flock to the Shrine to pay their respects to the Mother of God and take part in the “exhausting” programme arranged for the joyous occasion.
The Hickleton Pavilion, which has had to be rebuilt, was finished in time for the celebrations and this provided a lovely setting for the High Mass sung by the Vicar, Fr Roe, ably assisted by Fr Smith, of South Creake, and Fr Bale, of Marshland St James. Over 2,000 pilgrims took part in this and the usual programme.
After Mass Father Trevor Huddleston, CR, gave an excellent address which was followed by an enthusiastic procession round the precincts returning to the Shrine for Benediction. Then a welcome cup of tea before setting off home.