Friends of Walsingham Occasional Paper
Letter from the Revd The Administrator
My dear Friends
It has been a busy summer, and pilgrimages have gone on until the end of October. In spite of the indifferent weather I cannot recall a Saturday evening when we have not been able to have the Procession around the garden. There has also been a marked increase in the number of day visitors, many of them having little idea of what the Shrine stands for. Recently I visited St Winifred’s Well in Flintshire, and I noticed that during the season they had a service every day at 11.30 and it occurred to me that we ought to provide something similar every day at noon, so that there would be some religious service in which casual visitors could join.
Looking to next year there are two main objectives, one is the observance of the original foundation of the Shrine – the traditional date being 1061 – more details of this on another page, but I hope that it will be a sort of Holy Year for lovers of the Shrine, and that everyone will try and make a pilgrimage to the Holy House, and if prevented, will at least make a spiritual one to one of the many shrines of Our Lady of Walsingham which are now established all over the world, and if that proves impossible, to make a pilgrimage to any shrine of Our Lady and pray for Walsingham. The second objective is the support of the scheme of Planned Giving, so that the Shrine may be safely endowed, so that if ever it falls into disuse again it will be through violence and malice, and not from tepidity and neglect. The real challenge of the Planned Giving campaign is “How much does the Shrine mean to you?” I know that there are some who may, when asked to make a sacrifice, turn back, because this is what the Gospel tells us is likely to happen to any spiritual challenge, but I beg them to be honest with themselves and say frankly “I don’t think this is worth supporting,” and not to take refuge in such excuses as “To ask for money is very materialistic and puts one off religion.” After all, if we don’t make sacrifices in our pocket, it is unlikely we shall make them in any other way.
The new Bishop of the Diocese is coming to stay for the first time at the end of this month. We are very fortunate to have a bishop who really tries to understand and appreciate all the varied work which is being done in this large, and in many ways, difficult dioceses.
May I send you all my blessing for the lovely feast of Christmas, and hope, as we kneel at the Crib and worship the Christ Child, we may realise something of the profound mystery which surrounds the person of the mother who bore Him.
Fr Derek Hooper was ordained priest on September 25th and said his first Mass in the Shrine on September 27th. The Shrine was full of villagers and friends, and it was a most moving experience and a great cause for thanksgiving that here was a young priest who had given his life to the service of the Shrine. After Mass he gave his first blessing to his mother, together with a rose, and at the conclusion he carried a candle, decorated with flowers, to the Holy House, where it burned all day upon the altar, as we may hope this new priest may burn himself out slowly and wisely in the service of God.
Amongst the many gifts to the Shrine of vestments, linen and other things for which we are most grateful, mention may be made of three larger objects. A wrought iron gate, made by a Norwich firm, with beautiful craftsmanship. A 17th century image of St Benedict, which has come from France and which is being renovated. A magnificent reredos throne, which was at one time in Milwaukee Cathedral, and which, with the consent of Bishop Trins, the original donor, has been given to Walsingham by the Dean and Chapter, the heavy expense of carriage being undertaken by the local cell of the Society.
The first Clerks and Lay-Clerks of the Order of the Living Rosary of Our Lady of Walsingham were invested during the Priests’ Pilgrimage on October 10th, and the three new Dames were decorated at the Guardians’ Chapter on October 18th. Major Northen, Lay Clerk of the Presentation, has been appointed Registrar of the new Order.
Fr Huddleston resigned his Stall as a Guardian on leaving England to become Bishop of Masasi, but he has been elected an Honorary Guardian. Also elected as an Honorary Guardian is Bishop Brady, Bishop of Fond du Lac. Fr Oswald Wells, SSF, has been elected to the Chapel and Stall of St Anne. Fr Oswald was brought up in Walsingham, where his parents still live, and so has seen the Shrine develop since its restoration, and so he will be a great strength to the College of Guardians.
The College of Guardians has sustained a sad loss in the death of George Edwin Long, an original member of the College, and he was Church Warden of St Mary’s when the College was founded. His love and loyalty for the Shrine was a great strength, as he belonged completely to Walsingham, having seldom been away from the village for any length of time, except for his war service in the first World War. Anyone who knew him could not fail to be impressed by his simple and sincere piety. He was a great help and support to Fr Patten from the beginning and wholly devoted to him so that it is nice to think that he is buried close to him in the churchyard. His widow and daughter have our sincere sympathy and we all mourn his loss, for he was the type of man who is just not produced by the modern world. May he rest in peace.
One of the results of seeing Father Ronald Wills’ sound and colour film, “The Walsingham Story,” is that many, even of those who have been on pilgrimage to the Shrine, learn for the first time about the Walsingham Children’s Home. In the film they see the devoted Matron, Miss Bartholomew and her devoted assistant, Miss Williams, with the boys; and see their rooms and pets and treasures; and are left wondering how it is run. The Annual Report tells us about that; and about what the boys do – besides attending school at Wells or Walsingham. The Story of how the Home came from St Hilary’s, in Cornwall, in 1939, and how the boys help in the Shrine and the Parish Church; how much visits by pilgrims are welcomed, and how greatly gifts of groceries, etc, are appreciated, is told in the “Mirror” of Autumn, 1957. The Home has been called the Shrine Charity; but it makes no mean contribution to the life of the Shrine. It subsists in far the greatest proportion on Christmas gifts, Lenten Savings and donations or parts of donations earmarked for it. Perhaps you will find that an envelope about this has been enclosed with your copy of this paper.
Sir William Milner
Father Derrick Lingwood, who is Sir William’s Executor, has been so kind as to supply one or two historical notes on the Master of Lauderdale’s obituary notice in the last issue of this paper. Concerning the restoring of the Holy House, Father Lingwood explains that the then Bishop of Norwich did not specifically require the image of Our Lady to be removed from the Holy House. He asked for changes in the Service and the decorations of the Parish Church, leaving it open to Father Patten to say that, as the original Shrine had never been in a Parish Church, he would see whether a special building could not be raised to house it; and this he accordingly has done. When the decision to move the Shrine was taken in 1930, Sir William had fortunately already purchased the old Hospice and grounds, and these were thus available for the restoration. These are just two instances of the inspired foresight through which the Restoration of the Shrine has been brought about.
Altar of the Church Overseas
A few hours before his death in 1958 Father Hope Patten sat at dinner with the Bishops who had come on the first Episcopal Pilgrimage. It was the Bishop of South West Tanganyika who remarked on the fact that, while in the Shrine he had seen altars of various church societies, he was surprised to see nothing connected with Missions or the Church Overseas. Fr Patten expressed himself most warmly in favour of rectifying this and said he would set something going as soon as possible. Knowing his energy and ingenuity, we can be sure that he would soon have formed a plan and put it into effect. The problem seemed to be that all the chapels were allocated and to build would be altogether too ambitious. At last, after much though, a solution has been found in allocating the restored Altar Pavilion in the garden as the Altar of the Church Overseas. Being in the open air gives it an appropriate symbolism of the Church in this land having spread out to other countries.
The Administrator has written to all Diocesan Bishops who, it was thought, might welcome a connection with the Shrine and already we have almost a dozen on our list for regular intercession. They have all made a contribution towards the altar and the names of the Dioceses have been enrolled and are prayed for each week at Shrine prayers. Soon their names will be inscribed upon the pillars of the altar and in the summer months it is hoped that it will be possible to offer the Holy Sacrifice in the open air on behalf of the Mission work of the Church. There will also be a box there so that pilgrims may make offerings for Missions when they are on pilgrimage.
of the Altar Pavilion is rather interesting. It was designed by Sir William
Milner for Lord Halifax, who had it erected at Hickleton for a great High
Mass in thanksgiving for the centenary of the Oxford Movement in 1933.
He then gave it to Walsingham and it was placed in the Shrine Gardens.
As Sir William always used to point out, it was only designed for use
on one day and it is no wonder that after twenty years it was looking
worse for wear. The restoration has left little more than the familiar
canopy with its small dome, but the Hon Richard Wood, grandson of the
original donor, was particularly pleased that it was to be the Altar of
the Church Overseas, as he felt that his father’s long connection
with UMCA made this something of which he would have strongly approved.
It is not likely that Missionary Dioceses will be able to make offerings
which will, in fact, pay for the considerable amount of work which has
had to be done, so that if anyone else wishes to be associated with this,
their contributions will be welcomed by the Bursar.