Friends of Walsingham Occasional Paper
Letter from the Revd The Administrator
My dear Friends
When I came here everybody said “It will be hard work in the summer, but you will have a good rest in the winter”. How wrong they were! This winter has gone like a flash and it has been full of activity and now already in March we have had two day pilgrimages and the first weekend ones start this week. However, it is all very encouraging and nice to know that the stream of visitors, although it thins, never dries up. The two retreats we have had have been very successful and I hope they may become a regular thing in the Spring and Autumn. We turned the Lower Sacristy, which has central heating, into a retreat Chapel and so they were quite snug and comfortable. At Christmas this year the Chapel of the Nativity was transformed into a very beautiful crib which was much admired. It is interesting that when I visited Walsingham in January 1958, I suggested to Fr Patten that it would be a nice idea to make the Crib in the Chapel of the Nativity and the Epiphany House in the Chapel of the Visitation and he though it a very good suggestion and said that he would try it next Christmas. He was not spared to do so and it gave me added pleasure to know that I was carrying out a scheme which we had discussed. Constantly I find myself wondering what his intentions were over various things when matters arise which need a decision and wishing that I had known that I was to succeed him as Administrator so that I might have had the benefit of discussing the future with him. The whole work has been expanding so rapidly that it presents all sorts of problems, but God has shown such clear signs of His blessing that I am sure they will all be solved if we go forward in faith. It is an astonishing thought, when one surveys the Shrine and its works as they are today, to remember that the whole restoration began simply with the carving of an image in 1922. A retired missionary bishop was here last summer who had not been here since that year when he gave 5/- to Fr Patten towards this and one is not surprised at his amazement at seeing what had grown out of that. Now we look forward to 1961 and the 900th anniversary of the Apparition which led to the building of the Holy House at Walsingham and we look forward to marking this important celebration by seeing that the Shrine is put on a firm financial basis. This calls for really sacrificial giving on the part of all those who value all that the Shrine stands for and appreciate the enormous privilege of being called to establish “England’s Nazareth” as a truly National Shrine of Our Lady. Meanwhile we look forward to the Whit-Monday pilgrimage this year as being a great and inspiring gathering. The Halifax Altar Pavilion in the garden, which was constructed for the Oxford Movement Centenary in 1933 at Hickleton and then given to Walsingham by that great servant of God, Lord Halifax, has for some years been in ruinous condition. It has now been repaired and we hope that it will be able to be used for the first time at the Whitsun pilgrimage this year.
In December last year we lost one of the original priest-guardians and one who had been most active in the restoration at Walsingham. Fr Fynes-Clinton was tireless in his interest and in his generosity and it is very fitting that he established a Chantry Chapel in the Pilgrimage Church where he will always be remembered. Amongst other things he left his very valuable icons to the Shrine. An appreciation of his life and work is printed elsewhere in this paper. Since the last paper was published the new Bishop of Norwich, Dr Launcelot Fleming, has been enthroned. He needs all the prayers we can spare as he takes up the work of this large and difficult Diocese, but we are particularly fortunate that we have the care of such a sympathetic and great hearted father in God. He is faced with a terrific task in his primary visitation of the diocese and he is not due to pay his first visit to Walsingham until the Autumn, but I have already had evidence of his kindly and generous interest.
After Easter Fr Allan, from Antigua, is joining the College and while I am away and for most of the summer Fr Greenacre will be helping us here and so I am able to look forward to a much easier time than last year and I hope this will be reflected in what we are able to do for pilgrims and visitors. And now I am almost due to leave for my visit to America which has been arranged through the generosity of the Bishop of Fond du Lac. I cannot say how greatly I am looking forward to being in the “New World” and meeting the many friends and supporters of the Shrine which God had raised up there and I know you will remember me in your prayers and also the Tenth Annual Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Grace Church, Sheboygan, on May 14th which is to be one of the highlights of my visit.
May I wish all Members of the Society and Friends wherever you may be – and that almost covers the whole world – a very blessed Whitsun festival.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham at Grace Church, Sheboygan (Wisconsin) USA
This Shrine, which Fr Colin Stephenson is going to visit during his tour in the United States this Spring, had already been established for some years when the first American pilgrimage was made to it in August 1951. Canon William Elwell, who is one of our two honorary Guardians, was then Rector of Grace Church. The pilgrimage was sponsored by the Chicago Catholic Club, and pilgrims came mainly from Chicago, attending early mass on the way at Evanston. About 250 were present in all. “The day was perfect”, wrote Canon Elwell to Fr Hope Patten. “The tables were gay with flowers; there was congeniality among people who had never met before. Following luncheon the people made their private visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Shrine, and this, I am sure, was one of the most impressive parts of the day . . . . Water from the Holy Well (at Walsingham) was available at the Church door and the Shrine . . . I read a greeting to the people from Fr Peterson, (then) the only American Honorary Guardian of the Holy House . . . I feel the bonds between this daughter shrine and the parent at Walsingham have been drawn more closely by this pilgrimage.”
For many years the well known artist Miss Enid Chadwick has been living and working here and I think it is fairly well known that she can undertake artistic and decorative work for Churches – quite recently she has designed and painted a reredos for a Church in America – but we can also arrange for the making of vestments, stoles and frontals and all linen work, and requests for these should be addressed to the Shrine Office. There is also an artist who will do hand painted cards of greeting to individual orders at a very reasonable price.
Fr H J Fynes-Clinton
We are allowed, by kind permission of its author, Fr Ivan Young, to reprint the following abridged form of an account of Fr H J Fynes-Clinton, published in the Messenger of the Catholic League of January-April 1960.
The death of Fr Fynes-Clinton at the advanced age of 84, though not unexpected, came as a shock to many friends and indeed all who loved and knew him so well for so many years.
. . . . Born 84 years ago his long life covered a period in which the Catholic Movement had to face and overcome many trials and much opposition until it consolidated itself and secured toleration, In recent years he often spoke of the difficulties encountered in that period and of the outstanding figures in the Movement, nearly all of whom he knew or had come into contact with.
His knowledge of the Orthodox Church was not confined to Russia alone as the Greek and Serbian decorations which he received bear witness to . . . For his work on behalf of the Serbian Orthodox Church he received an Archpriest’s cross and later that also of the Russian Church.
His work in connection with the Reunion Movement in so far as the Roman Catholic Church is concerned was persistent and extensive. He both knew and was on excellent terms with many Roman Catholic Clergy and abroad he was well known and respected. In connection with this he conducted an immense, a huge, correspondence the extent of which was quite astounding. For many years he fostered and took a deep interest in The Church Unity Octave.
Of his work and love for the restoration of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham there is little need to speak. During the latter part of his life this occupied a large part of his time and attention. Again as Director of the Catholic League for many years his work is well known.
Of the Church of St Magnus the Martyr, which he beautified and which was so much part of him, and the earlier difficulties which he had in connection with the Protestant opposition, all is well known. But when these difficulties were over the Church became a well-known centre and spiritual home for many people. Under its shelter many activities were given a generous welcome and a home. He refounded the ancient City Guild of Our Lady of Salve Regina.
For the ancient City of London and all that it stood for he had the most profound interest and a wide knowledge. He was on excellent terms with the City and served in several clerical capacities such as Lord Mayor’s Chaplain. He himself was not only Chaplain to but a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers. He also initiated in recent years a group of Catholic Members of Parliament interested in Walsingham, to whom he acted as Chaplain. His indeed was a very full life.
Sir William Milner
Our next issue will contain an account of Sir William Milner, a great benefactor of the Shrine and one of its earliest Guardians. A report in the Press, however, that Sir William had left £61,000 to the Shrine is erroneous, and it was later contradicted by his executor. All that sum goes to maintain his property in Yorkshire, for various religious purposes, and none of it comes to assist Walsingham.
Southend & District Pilgrimage Association
Mrs G S Wheeldon allows us to quote from an account (amended and brought up to date) written by her and printed in “Our Lady’s Mirror” – Spring 1955.
The Association came into being as a direct result of a Pilgrimage to Walsingham in 1946, when some sixty people from Churches in or near Southend-on-Sea united in this act of thanksgiving for the end of the war.
The following year, 1947, saw a further pilgrimage and it was suggested afterwards that those taking part should form a small association to promote an annual visit to the Shrine of Our Lady and to spread knowledge of Walsingham wherever opportunity offered.
A Chaplain was appointed and a Committee formed in 1947, and since that time the Association has been able to carry out a full programme every year.
The chief event is, of course, the Walsingham Pilgrimage; and in addition one or more long-distance pilgrimages to a Cathedral or other Shrine are undertaken.
There are normally from four to six other visits, frequently to small country parishes – and we are told that such visits are often very useful stimuli to those on the spot. Some years ago the Association was able to set up its own Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in a local church, and here on the first Friday in each month members meet for a short office and Intercessions.
As far as possible, pilgrimages or visits are arranged to take place on or near one of the Feasts of Our Lady and the Walsingham Pilgrimage is always made in Mary’s month of May. This is now a weekend pilgrimage for it was found after a few years that a day pilgrimage was not really long enough.
On one occasion a party of members walked the whole distance – some 120 miles – and joined the rest of the pilgrims at Fakenham, where others also completed the journey on foot. Members of the Association were amongst the first Walsingham box holders and have increased their donations substantially every year, and in addition we would like to add that in 1959 a special effort was made for the Appeal Fund and as a result a further £100 was raised.
The practical usefulness of an organisation such as this extends in many directions; it has been responsible for bringing some hundred of people to Walsingham, it has been the means of many prayers and such intercession being offered in Holy places and opened to many a new vista of life and work in the Church outside their own parishes.
Father Roger Wodehouse
“I have just been talking to your ridiculous Vicar,” said someone to the writer. “Ridiculous” Father Wodehouse could be . . . And how!
He was a superb mimic; he could act drunk as nobody I have ever seen could act it; he loved to say something entirely inconsequent in reply to a pompous utterance, leaving the speaker in mid air; he had funds of stories and loved to tell them; he had a memory of more peculiar lines in Hymns A & M and adored them:
“They cannot rise and come to Church
He was the best company in the world, but you had to keep up with him.
“Ridiculous . . .” – it seemed to be said with a certain heat and it was after a committee meeting. I cannot imagine anyone worse at a committee than Father Wodehouse. His mind wouldn’t take to anything of the sort. It would seem to him a little ridiculous and that, because he was not of this world. He did not notice the things that committee members, or even earnest parishioners, noticed. He was not with that jumble and postle. He was with GOD, where Love, Joy, Peace and the rest abound, in the Heavenlies. To say that he was like a child, is too commonplace; but he was, in the best sense of the expression. If people spoke ill of him, he thought it quite natural; he could take a scolding. If people were tiresome or disgruntled, he was instantly sympathetic, though surprised that it could be so, with Grace Abounding.
He longed for bigger congregations in his little flock, but he never denounced us. “It would be so nice if we all brought one friend, at least, next Sunday.” We never did and he never said anything about it. No doubt we had tried . . .
To seek absolution from him was to stand, just for a moment, at Peter’s Gate. “Ridiculous . . .” That grave face, dropped upon the hand, that motionless figure, that measured voice. It was impossible, with such a Confessor, to live in a fuss. “Remember: When you are forgiven, you are forgiven. You need never think of it again.” His reach was forward always.