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Walsingham Anglican Shrine
Home of English pilgrimage
The Anglican Shrine occupies an island site in Walsingham, close to the ruins of the original medieval Priory. The present-day Shrine was gradually created in 1931 from derelict farm buildings and cottages, with a brand new Shrine Church in the south-east corner of the site.
At its heart is the Holy House, a replica of the house in Nazareth where Mary heard from the angel Gabriel that she was to be the mother of Jesus.
Welcoming pilgrims today
The Shrine complex welcomes over 10,000 residential pilgrims each year (nearly 200 pilgrims can be accommodated at any one time.) Meals are enjoyed in the award-winning Pilgrim Refectory and the Norton Café Bar.
A further 300,000 visitors come to Walsingham each year to experience what this unique and extraordinary place has to offer.
A new Visitor Centre, completed in 2009, introduces them to the story of the Shrine.
For many people their first visit to Walsingham is centred around the National Pilgrimage which takes place on the Spring Bank Holiday each year. This is a wonderful outdoor event with the famous procession of Our Lady from the ruined priory grounds, through the village to the Shrine.
At the centre of pilgrimage to Walsingham is the daily rhythm of worship and prayer. The daily service of Sprinkling at the Well (Easter to October, weekends only during winter) is attended by thousands throughout the year. Water from the ancient well within the Shrine Church is used to sign a cross on the forehead, given as a drink and poured over outstretched hands as a sign of God’s healing.
Shrine Prayers – a short service during which pilgrims intercession requests are read out – has taken place in the church without interruption since 1931.
Enjoy the pace of the gardens
The gardens of the shrine have always played an important part in the pilgrimage programme, for processions of Our Lady, for outdoor services using the garden alter, or as a quiet space for meditation and reflection.
Originally laid out in the 1930s, by the turn of the century much of the original planting and planning had been lost. Vistas had become obscured and the design haphazard. Today’s much-loved scheme was designed in 2004 by Tessa Hobbs and completed the following year. The Stations of the Cross and the Calvary (with its three crosses) remained, the latter dramatically heightened by lowering the levels all around it.
Lawns are bordered with lavender and roses are bisected by the Serpentine Path with its flanking beds a constantly moving drift of flowers and grasses.
Visitors and village residents alike enjoy the peace and beauty of the Shrine gardens. It’s a beautiful place to sit quietly and connect.
Staffed by a full-time education officer and a team of qualified teachers, the Education Department welcomes schools and community groups throughout the year. A variety of study programmes are offered for day and residential visits, based around RE and history topics.
The Shrine runs several residential events each year for children, young people, families and young adults.
For more great photos, visit Graham’s online Photo Gallery