walsingham history

History after 1061

The Victorian Revival

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The story of the RC revival of Walsingham begins in the Victorian Age. An Anglican lady, -Charlotte Boyd, became interested in the derelict old chapel south of the village in 1863. Since the Reformation it had seen a variety of uses (barn, cottage, workhouse), but its original existence was as a Slipper Chapel. To cut a long story short, Miss Boyd converted to the Roman Church and bought the chapel, appointing it for use as a place "of prayer and penitence for unity in England". The first modern-day pilgrimage to Walsingham took place in 1897

In 1921 the Anglican parish priest had visions of reinstating Walsingham as a pilgrim destination for Anglicans. The story of his building up of the Anglican chapel as a focus of international interest is truly remarkable, and thus Walsingham became a centre with two shrines.

Archaeological excavations in 1961 firmly resolved any discussion about the true location of the original Holy House. It is to be found close to the ruins in the Priory grounds. So, when you make your visit, be sure to check that the grounds are actually open if you want to literally touch history. However, each and every corner of the village is steeped in history, so one may never feel short-changed even if every single facility were closed!

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Copyright © 1998 Sean O'Connell, Bournemouth, UK