Walsingham has been a place of pilgrimage since the C11th when Richeldis de Faverches, widow of the Lord of the Manor, had a vision where she was taken by the Virgin Mary to the house in Nazareth where the Angel Gabriel had visited her to tell he she was to be the mother of the Son of God. In her vision, the Virgin Mary asked Richeldis to build a replica of her house in Walsingham.
Richeldis carried out these wishes and built a shrine. Her son Geoffrey left instructions in his will for a “Priory”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/ruined_abbeys/midlands_south/walsingham_priory/index.html to be built to house the shrine. Walsingham became a major place of pilgrimage until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the C16th when the shrine and Priory were destroyed.
In 1897, Pope Leo XIII gave permission for the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham to be re-founded in the newly built Roman Catholic Church in King’s Lynn. The first Roman Catholic Pilgrimage was held to the restored C14th Slipper Chapel just outside Little Walsingham. This was the last of the wayside chapels where pilgrims stopped on their way to Walsingham.
In the 1921s, the Anglo-Catholic Alfred Hope-Patten became rector of All Saints’ Church in Little Walsingham. Much to the outrage of the Church of England, he established a small Marian Shrine in the church, with a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham modelled on the medieval priory’s seal. The church became known as St Mary and All Saints’. People gathered to pray before the statue and so ignited Anglican interest in Pilgrimage. By the 1930s, numbers of pilgrims had increased so much that Father Patton purchased land in the village opposite the ruined Priory and drew up plans to build a church containing at its heart the Holy House seen in Richeldis’s dream. The statue of Mary and the Christ Child was taken from St Mary’s Church to be placed above the altar in the Holy House.
Since then the site has grown and expanded with accommodation for pilgrims, visitor centre, cafe and shop. The small Guild of All Souls Chapel acts as a chantry chapel with a daily mass for the souls of the departed.
The Shrine is open daily from 8-6pm Easter to November and 8.30-5 for the rest of the year. A list of daily services can be found “here.”:http://www.walsinghamanglican.org.uk/the_shrine/index.htm
“Norton’s Cafe Bar”:http://www.walsinghamanglican.org.uk/hospitality/refectory_catering.htm#link-point is open from 10am-11pm during the Pilgrimage season, otherwise it closes at 4.30. The shrine also offers “accommodation”:http://www.walsinghamanglican.org.uk/hospitality/accommodation_available.htm for pilgrims. The Shrine Shop in Common Place is open 9-4 or 4.45pm in the summer.
There is no car parking for daily visitors at the shrine and visitors are recommended to use the Old Mill Car park off Cokers Hill. The nearest post code is NR22 6EE and the grid reference is TF 935369.
Disabled visitors can be dropped off by the Pilgrimage Entrance to the Shrine at the junction of Common Place, Holt Road and Knight Street. There are ramped walkways giving access to all of the site and the Shrine Church. There are disabled toilets.
There is more information and lots more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/norfolk/walsingham_shrine/index.html