Page 6, 23rd October 1970

23rd October 1970
Page 6
Page 6, 23rd October 1970 — DECLINE AND RISE OF ROYAL SHRINE

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Locations: Rome, Norwich


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The Walsingham Way by Colin Stephenson (Darton Longman & Todd 50s.)

THIS book is about the Anglican shrine at Walsingham in Norfolk. The author succeeded the late Rev. Hope Patten as Administrator. Hope Patten started this shrine which was opened in 1931.

Reference is made to the Roman Catholic shrine at Walsingham, which is the slipper chapel and there is a pleasant absence of the bitterness of the bad old days.

The first part of the book is a history of Walsingham. According to tradition, Our Lady appeared to Richeldis, wife of the lord of the Manor of Walsingham, in 1061 and took her in spirt to the Holy House at Nazareth and told her to build a replica of it at Walsingham, Then in the 12th century the Canons of St. Augustine became the guardians of the Holy House at Walsingham and built a vast Priory alongside it, the great east window of which still stands.

For 300 years every King of England made at least one pilgrimage to Walsingham. Henry VIII was the last. Many routes to Walsingham were named the Walsingham way.

Then came the destruction. Henry VIII, who had himself made a pilgrimage to Walsingham long before, now wanted a break with anything connected with Rome. He started to close religious houses down and Richard Vowel!, Prior of Walsingham, saw the way -the wind was blowing. He tried appeasement but one might as well try to appease Hitler. The King ordered the shrine and Priory to be closed and destroyed.

The utter tragedy is expressed in a poem reputed to be by Philip Howard. one of the 40 martyrs. Part of it reads Level, level with the ground The towers do lie Which with their golden glittering tops

Pierced once to the sky.

In the reign of Charles I Walsingham, with its ruins, was purchased by John Warner, from whom it descended to the wife of Sir Eustace Gurney, K.T. in 1922. The Gurney family still live at Walsingham Hall, with the gruairndm

ruins ofthe Priory in the

At about the turn of this century Miss Boyd bought the slipper chapel, which was being used as it farm building. This chapel is where pilgrims used to leave their shoes before walking the last mile barefoot. Shortly afterwards Miss Boyd became a Roman Catholic.

The slipper chapel is now the Roman Catholic shrine and the Anglican shrine is the modern one built by Mr. Patten quite near the ruins of the old Priory

in Hope opetoi,pynat.

tern was Vicar of Walsingham and this book is chiefly about his efforts in getting the Anglican shrine started.

Such a high Anglo-Catholic as Mr. Patten was hound to have difficulties with his fellow Anglicans of different views. Lord Halifax and Samuel Gurney, brother of Sir Eustace, were on his side. Sir Eustace was not and always went to church in a neighbouring parish. His wife Agatha went to church at Walsingham but was hardly on speaking terms with the Vicar. Dr. Pollock, Bishop of Norwich, never understood what the shrine was all about, and Mr. Patten had difficulty in getting his permission for anything new at all.

What Hope Patten was really after was to get England back to the religious fervour of the Middle Ages. This is a good book, well written with sincerity and humour.

On p.245 the author writes -"I was invited to a private audience with Pope John XXIII who was deeply interested in the Anglican shrine at Walsingham. He said 'I would wish my blessing to descend on all who visit your shrine'." •

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