walsingham history

History after 1061

The Dissolution of the Monasteries

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"The images of our Lady of Walsingham and Ipswich were brought to London, with all the jewels that hung about them, and divers other images both in England and Wales, whereunto any common pilgrimage was used, for avoiding idolatry, all of which were burned by Thomas Cromwell." (John Stow, 1538)

Twenty years after Henry VIII's last visit to Walsingham the effects of the Reformation swept through England. Shrines were laid waste along with the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 and 1539, - a task undertaken by Thomas Cromwell.

Cromwell, Cranmer and Latimer were quite literal in their interpretation of 'justification by faith alone'. Shrines seemed somewhat contrary to the spirit of the Reformation. The once renowned shrine was remembered in the poem 'The wrecks of Walsingham':-

Bitter, bitter, O to behold
The grass to grow
Where the walls of Walsingham
So stately did show

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Copyright © 1998 Sean O'Connell, Bournemouth, UK