The Revd Frank Wain

His son has edited Fr Wain’s diary for 1938: these are the extracts describing his week's stay in Walsingham in July of that year. Reproduced by kind permission. The annotations are the editor's.
Saturday 23rd July 1938 On arriving home I found a parcel from Mrs Lloyd, and from Walsingham I hear I shall have to be put up in the village. Hope it doesn’t mean there’s a pilgrimage on. Tuesday 26th July Departure 8.30, changed Birmingham & Fakenham only, arrived Walsingham 2.40 and a nice cup of tea! Everything here is marvellous – the completed church is v. fine. And now there is a scheme for a priests’ college, to look after the shrine, retreatants, etc. The sister in charge (Grace Helen, S.S.P.) explained how they are the original Horbury Sisters, the remnant being S.Peter’s Chains. In the old days the Mirfield students used to hike over on saints’ days for tea & vespers at Horbury. She knew Fr Symonds very well. On the lawn was Fr Bristow, [curate] of S. Chad’s, Longton. Besides him there were only a lot of females, until Reynolds, the M.C. last night at Wednesbury, turned up. Bristow is in my old room, 'neath the creaking sign, but I am bedded out at the Page’s in the village. Notice the Roman Franciscans who have descended upon the place. They have turned a couple of houses into a hostel, and have bought a row of houses where they will build a church when the lease is up. Wednesday 27th July Served Bristow at Mass in the Holy House itself. Then he had to go. Fr Derek Lingwood took him as far as Fakenham, & I went with them. In the Abbey grounds with Reynolds before lunch, EXPECTANS DUM DEFLUAT AMNIS [waiting till the rain stopped], & afterwards to Sandringham Flower Show – which was all very nice but very tiring. [The Latin is an adapted quotation from Horace – Rusticus expectat dum defluat amnis – the country bumpkin waits till the river stops flowing. Ep. I.ii.32.] Thursday 28th July A jolly sight harder to get up today. Mr Page is a cheery little fat man, who expects to hold a prolonged conversation about the weather at 7 o/c a.m. – and to find out where I’ve been the day before! Mass in the Parish Church. About 20 present, including the fellow who served last year. A funny little server today, with a piping voice & a local accent. There was noise at the back like a decrepit steam roller making its way up the aisle, & in came the proprietress of the Martyr café. She then sat down & coughed as though about to pass out, but in the middle of the morning she was dressed up to kill and doing 60 down the road, off & away somewhere. In the afternoon by bike to South Creake, where is England’s most beautiful church. 4 altars, including Nave Altar, Reservation, statues, peal of bells, old woodwork - & no pews. A few chairs brought out for the service suffice for the whole population of the village. [Added: BEAUTIFULLY CLEAN]. Some of the others came by car. [Added: IE MRS & MISS DANIELS AND “MONICA”.] Others walked. We were back for tea – those who walked were NOT. There was a spare seat in the car – after all my exertions getting the bike here, I might just as well have left it behind! This morning the cubs who were at Mass the other day were being shown round the shrine. They have two cubmistresses, one of whom [Added: (A) ] is most attractive. They are from Kenton (London) & their priest [Frank Johnson, Vicar of St Mary the Virgin, Kenton, Middlesex] knew Sidney Cockburn [a student at the College, a year behind FW and so about to be ordained deacon]. The cubmistresses came to the Hospice after dinner too. Friday 29th July. S.Martha This afternoon to the cubs’ camp for tea – a very jolly time. Fr Taylor, Fr Edwards: two awfully nice men; Audrey & somebody else: & 20 boys. After tea & bread an’ marmalade (+ 2 cakes which a lady in the village brought round warm from the oven), some of us went fishing. The boys had dug for worms with a spade as big as themselves, & we fastened one to a hook in a most gruesome manner. Needless to say, we caught nothing, but we saw a lot of dace, some moorhens & some nests, & got well stung with nettles. Johnny Creame became Red Wolf, another White Feathers, & I Black Beetle because of my blazer. Johnnie knew all about the Lamb of God on my badge. [The symbol of the Community and College of the Resurrection] At dinner there was another man – from Brighton. At the weekend some of us are going to make a proper pilgrimage, & I am to conduct Stations of the Cross. In the drawing room a musical lady tried to pick out the Walsingham Hymn on the piano – from the musical statue & our singing! A short walk round by the church, & so to bed at 10.30. Saturday 30th July Sung Mass at the Parish Church (8 o/c). They sing the Saturday Mass of Our Lady every Saturday in a Station of the Cross 1938the side chapel. Incense. One server. Reynolds departed, among general regret, to catch the one o/c train to Wednesbury (Awful thought). Afternoon I spent with the cubs, it was their sports, & a gorgeously hot day. Little Johnnie didn’t run much – the sun affected him, so we laid him in the shade, & I wet my hankie in the brook & he loved to have it on his forehead. He’s not a strong boy, & Miss Daniels thinks he won’t live long. She’s had experience & says she can tell. He fainted at mass in the parish church last Sunday – just after the Consecration – unwittingly preventing the Kensitites from making a disturbance. He has a brother, but no sisters, and “no animals”. Audrey was magnifique! At 5.45 we began our pilgrimage with devotions in the Holy House before the usual intercessions – conducted by Fr Patten himself. There were a lot of newcomers arrived. At 7 o/c a whole crowd made their confessions – Fr Patten merely said to me “Have you got a regular director?” So I said “Yes” – “Anything you wish to ask about?” – “No” - & that was all. After supper, we went to the cubs Camp Fire singsong, & Mrs Daniels presented the prizes for the sports. It was most excellently jolly. And now it’s far too hot to sleep. At dinner I told Mrs D. that I always spoil it for myself by wondering what they will be like in 20 years time - & she said, very kindly & quietly “You mustn’t wonder”. Mem. Don’t wonder, just thank God & worship the Christ child in them. Lady, help of Christians, pray for us. Sunday 31st July ‘38 By the way – what a number of people with monocles I’ve suddenly begun meeting – first the doctor at Great Barr – then the priest at Wednesbury – then Mrs Brett, I see, has one for reading! When wearing her veil and smoking, she looks just like a gipsy. Mass & Communion at 8 this morning. At 10 o/c I conducted Stations – cotta & purple stole– it was all very good. Audrey says Fr Taylor didn’t let any of the cubs go into the Sepulchre. Just as well! [In the garden at Walsingham is a model of the Empty Tomb.] Then the Parish Mass at the church – absolutely packed. Again a great joy. The devotion (as Reynolds said) could be cut with a spade. It was wonderful. Local people too – not by any means all visitors. And Fr Patten preached a delightful sermon. Asperged first. The cubs & their officers all came. I sat behind them. Johnnie turned round – he says he wants to keep my hanky. Podgy Tucker looked as tho’ about to faint, but it turned out he was only asleep! I pointed out to some of them the Abbey ruins – they hadn’t been in owing to the price (6d). They will go back to school with new ideas of Henry VIII – what with me & Fr Derek! Mrs & Miss Daniels are going to give me a copy of The House of Prayer which belonged to their granny (cp Fr Biggart reading it in my first retreat). At 2.15 Fr Patten gave us a short talk in S.Anne’s chapel – new idea – the Lady of the Manor. Then we sang Litany of Our Lady in procession & were sprinkled etc. at the Holy Well. I helped with the devotions, & again all was excellent. At Evensong – no sermon, but Benediction afterwards – as one would expect, great devotion, driving one back to realities. On the way back we said goodbye to the cubs. I shook hands scoutwise with each one. Tomorrow I shall get to Mass after all, as there is an early one. Then Miss D will take me to Fakenham in the car (if it don’t break down) & thus avoid the hour’s wait at Fakenham. Audrey came round after supper (purposely not bringing Geoffrey, tho’ he was invited!) & we talked till nearly 11 o/c! Outside the “Martyrs’ memorial” I borrowed 5/- from Mr Williams, who keeps the Shrine Token Shop. Audrey, you see, is not only a magnificent girl, but also a good Catholic. At intercessions I gave in several: choirboys, Fr W’s neuritis, & D.P.’s TB. Furthermore, I shall not forget my Pilgrimage Intention – it is already being answered. PS Fr Hope Patten’s theology was absolutely sound this afternoon. Audrey’s birthday is 20th November. Monday 1st August Mass & Communion @ 7.30, a crowd of people besides the cubs. Audrey & Geoffrey & Fr Edwards too. The Mass was said by Fr Taylor. Johnny was at the back, but after a bit I looked down & there he was by my side! What must be passing through his little head! I gave him the pad from my kneeling chair – it wd have been screwmaticy for his knees on the stones. White Feathers was just in front. They both said goodbye again at the end of Mass. Did I mention White Feathers? I was Black Beetle (because of my blazer, belt and shoes) and Johnny varied – but finally decided on Red Wolf. A quick breakfast, & by car to Fakenham, with a W’ham label on my bag. top of page