Towards a history of Walsingham: September
September events extracted from the late Howard Fear’s “Towards a History of Walsingham”
1272. Citizens and monks in riotous conflict at Norwich. Henry III reached the city on September 10 to make judgements, later travelling to Walsingham, reached on September 26.
1309. Ricardus de Walsingham was one of the knights of the Shire for the County of Norfolk in the king’s parliaments in 1309, and in 1312/’13 and twice in later 1313 (July and September).
1482. Edward IV again in Walsingham. On his mid-September visit he was joined by Lord Howard, who accompanied him on a progress through Norfolk and Suffolk.
1494. When bishop Goldwell carried out his personal visitation of Walsingham’s priory on September 1, recorded as the Norwich Visitations, “matters were evidently in an unsatisfactory state”. None of the canons dared to speak out and even the prior, John Farewell, was “afraid to say all he knew”. Superficially this is memorable as the first surviving record of a Norwich episcopal visitation to Walsingham. One member of the community, Brother William Norwich, complained that the prior refused to anoint him to the priesthood and imprisoned him within the monastic curtilage for several weeks. Whilst accounts varied, Farewell was also taken to task for alleged favouritism, that priory servants were insolent and that canons went outside the monastery without a companion. These examples of slackness and ill-discipline gave rise to the comment that under prior Farewell (1474-1503), as a result of the “wealth that pilgrims poured into its lap”, the priory of Walsingham was “the most disorderly and demoralized religious house of the diocese”. The bishop noted that “the (Walsingham) brethren have no schoolmaster in the house to teach them grammar”. Pope Benedict XII had directed that each religious house should have a cloister school for the teaching of grammar, logic and philosophy, making obligatory a professionally-trained master.
1513. (September 16). A letter from queen Catherine to Henry VIII announcing the victory over the Scots at Flodden Field, added, in a postscript, her intention to “goo to Our Lady of Walsyngham”, seeking Henry’s early return for the resumption of conjugal relations as they both sought a male heir. Catherine was in Walsingham on September 23.
1534. (September 18). Prior Vowell and twenty one canons signed a deed accepting Henry VIII as head of the English church, thereby rejecting the authority of the pope.
1536. September). Vowell wrote to Cromwell, denying that his brethren “were privy either to the articles or to the letter sent to Cromwell in their name”. This unexplained communication may have suggested that Vowell was working to his own agenda, wishing to be disassociated from the undercurrent of impending seizures and of the protests which ended in the Walsingham Conspiracy and its eleven martyrdoms. An unexplained element of bribery may be inferred from the letter’s note that the bearer would deliver Cromwell’s “fee for the coming years”: this may have referred to the on-going monthly fee payments by existing monasteries, a sum of £4 being Walsingham’s due.
1538. Until Ladyday (March 25) Henry VIII paid £10 annually to maintain a priest to offer mass at the shrine. 4d. was paid twice a year to keep the king’s candle burning before the shrine, but this ceased at Michaelmas (September 29), as recorded in the Exchequer Book “For the king’s candle before Our Lady of Walsingham and to pay the prior for his (priest’s) salary, nil”.
1555. (September). A protestant, William Allen, was burned at the stake in Walsingham. Despite protracted bodily agonies induced by inhuman tormentors at the instigation of “Bloody Mary”, in her attempt to stamp out Protestantism, his conduct under torture impressed by its upright and godly sincerity.A labouring man, who refused to follow in a procession after a cross, he avowed that even if he saw the king, queen and all others kneel to the cross, he would not do so. Following interrogation by bishop Bonner he was condemned on August 12, 1555. Because of his impressive conduct he was allowed to go to the stake without bonds, simply being fastened with a chain. As the flames rose he “stood quietly and without shrinking until his body had been burned to ashes”. There is no evidence that Allen was a Walsingham man; little is known, even of his religious background, other than that he was a labourer.The location of the funeral pyre was probably the site in Martyrs Field in which two Catholics had been put to death less than twenty years earlier. Many public spectacles centred on Friday Market, where celebratory bonfires have been held on numerous occasions, and it has been suggested that if the stake was erected in the Market Place, it was to impress the people with the queen’s intentions.
1556. (September). Sessions were held at Walsingham, King’s Lynn, North Walsham, Swaffham, Thetford and at Norwich (cathedral and St. Peter Mancroft) to administer the Oath of Supremacy, which had been effected May 23, 1559.
1603.— (September 25). Walsingham the venue for an “Inquisicon” held before magistrates, including Sir Nathaniel Bacon, concerned with the confiscation of recusants’ property. But no Catholics recorded in the village; those who appeared came from further afield.
1760.— Amongst the fashionable assemblies, balls, etc. held in Walsingham at this time, records include
1791 when François Veron held a ball at Walsingham in September.
1795 when – Baker, dancing master of King’s Lynn, organised a ball in the village.
1794 Subscription Ball at the King’s Head.
1771— (September 28). Notice in Norwich Mercury that Gentlemen, Clergy, Farmers and Others were requested to meet at Black Lion on October 18, “to consider the utility of an application to Parliament for a Turnpike Road from the Port of Wells to Thetford (passing) through Warham, Wighton, Walsingham, Great and Little Snoring, Guist, North Elmham, East Dereham, Shipdham and Watton.”
1793— (September 27). A letter with numerous signatories of those “residing in or near the parish of Little Walsingham”, sent to the Ipswich Journal; signifying their support for the recent performances in Walsingham of the theatre company, Fisher and Co., whose return to Walsingham “at their usual time of coming” would be “gladly received”.
1803. (September). Little Walsingham company of the 2nd Norfolk Volunteer Infantry, then sixty strong, preferably able-bodied men aged under thirty without dependant children, under Capt. Adcock (compared with total male village population between eighteen and forty five of about 167). In 1806 strength reduced to thirty seven; finally disbanded in 1808. Militia Act of 1757 had allowed for the raising of a nationwide defence force of 30,000, each county being allotted a quota. Eligible adult males comprised the Militia Ballot List: each parish was allotted a proportion of the county’s quota for selection by ballot, although exemption could be secured by paying a substantial fine or by finding, and paying, a substitute, or as the result of poverty or infirmity. Norfolk Militia had two regiments, the Eastern and the Western, each of twelve companies of forty men each. The Eastern regiment was divided between the Yeomanry Cavalry and the Volunteer Infantry. Officers required a property qualification before acceptance.
1815.— September/October). Whilst nutting in a wood a lad touched the wire of a spring gun. “The charge entering his body inflicted terrible injuries”. A man’s servant, in similarly innocent circumstances, also suffered terrible injuries from a triggered spring gun. Mr. Gurney, barrister, considered them illegal saying that a master might be accused of murder but another barrister expressed a contrary opinion.
1826 — (September 13). Wells to Fakenham Turnpike trustees agreed to the erection of toll-bars and toll-houses at Wells and Warham for £322 and at Kettlestone and Fakenham for £380. Toll collectors were to be paid 15s. 0d. each per week. Land compensation was provided in twenty five instances at averages of £50 to £70 per acre. Recipients included H. Lee Warner and A. L. Rix.
1830 — (September, October, November). Trustees of the Wells to Fakenham Turnpike agreed to build proposed toll-house and toll-gate in Little Walsingham across the Turnpike road at the entrance of the highway leading to Thursford and also a side gate across the said highway and also another across the entrance of the highway leading from the Turnpike road from Walsingham to Fakenham to Snoring and Thorpland at the S.E. corner of the Revd. W. Lee Warner’s Park. Shortly after, this was amended to an agreement to “erect at Walsingham at the corner of the road leading to Thursford (the toll-house and gate removed from Kettlestone and erect) a side gate across the Thursford road and also a side gate at the N.W. corner of a piece of land belonging to Revd. Lee Warner Esq. across the road leading to Snoring and Thorpland”. Even so, a difference of opinion led finally to the decision not to erect a gate across the turnpike road leading to Snoring but there was to be a gate 120 yards nearer Little Walsingham.
1833.— Subjects discussed at meetings on June 20, July 30 and September 25 of the Walsingham Vestry included apprentices and a directive that W. Dawson should “quit possession of the Parish House, to be occupied by John Shepherd the Younger.” — Revd. George Kent was Master of Bond’s Free School. In the absence of pupils, he received his charity-derived income in full. In his years as Master there was only one application to become a pupil, and this was refused as not being permitted under the terms of Bond’s stipulations. (6/99).
1844.—Agreed by the parish Vestry “that the Town Pump be repaired”. — (September 17). Revd. John Summers ordained as pastor to his Independent congregation. Both he and his wife were aged thirty two, employing a fifteen years old living-in female servant but in 1853 Summers emigrated to Australia.
1847— (September 8 and 9). An extensive auction sale “by order of the trustees of the late Morse”, viz by Thomas and James Morse, included the Robin Hood at Lot 48. The trustees, and others, appear to have been seeking sums sufficient to discharge an overall debt of £1,360. It is not known whether the inn sold at this auction. (5/125).
1850. (September 11). National School children from the parishes of Little Walsingham, Great Walsingham, and Houghton invited by the Lee Warners to the abbey grounds, where nearly 200 boys and girls partook of “a plentiful dinner of good old English fare”, followed by a cricket match and other “appreciable amusements”.
1852.— September Quarter: Thursford workhouse. Wages and salaries for officials, including the chaplain (but excluding Medical and relieving officers and the clerk) totalled £68 17s. 6d. (8/11). Other salaries included: Master £20, and board, lodging and washing in the Union ‘house; clerk and Relieving Officers £26 5s. 0d. each; chaplain £13 2s. 6d. Medical Officer £11 10s. 0d. The Master was expected to spend all his time and energy at his task and “cannot be efficient … if he devote himself to pleasures or duties away from the workhouse”. Without qualifications Masters had little prospect of promotion. (8/50).
1896.– Twenty private banks combined to form Barclay and Co. One of these was Gurney & Co., making their Walsingham office a sub-branch of Barclays. Operating less than four hours per week it was a very small office for the convenience of the local population at a time when there was great competition between the major banks. Having a presence in the area was more important than its profitability. Walsingham office, when open, had two staff; heating was by an open fire. In 1930 a rent of £7 per annum was paid and a safe fitted costing £72 5s. Closed for the war on September 26, 1939, it did not re-open until April 2, 1946, but finally closed on December 28, 1971.
1912 — (September 7). Sidney Reynolds, licensee of the Oxford Stores, charged with drunken-ness and aggravated assault with a bread knife upon his wife. Sentenced to two months hard labour. Reynolds had taken over the licence in 1904.
1914 — (February 22). Opening of the Walsingham Red Cross Hospital, comprising the Oddfellows’ Hall and Houghton Farm at Houghton St. Giles used as an isolation unit. Berry Hall at Great Walsingham was an Auxiliary War Hospital. The Red Cross Hospital remained in operation until December 31, 1918, having admitted in total 384 patients. (Berry Hall, with a potential fifteen beds, had only ten of them in use, restricted to patients from the Belgian army, functioning from October 20, 1914 to September 7, 1915).
1953. — (September). 23 High Street, with rear cottage, sold to Walsingham College for £2,500. Rent of cottage £7 10s. P/an
1984. — (September). Home for handicapped young people opened at Southwell House by Sons of Divine Providence.
Junior branch of the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta created in Friars’ Quire (originally the Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School) a transit hospital for up to twelve sick pilgrims. A gift by Arthur Bond of Walsingham, the building included part of the site of the original friary high altar and choir.