Little Walsingham, Norfolk

Notes in italics from North-West and South Norfolk by Nikolaus Pevsner
(1962) Penguin Books, now published by Yale University Press

PRIORY. The Priory of Our Lady of Walsingham developed into one of the most famous pilgrimage places in England. It seems to have originated in a chapel built by Richelde of Fervaques about 1150, 'ad instar' of the house in Nazareth where the Annunciation took place. Her son Geoffrey had visited the Holy Land and added to the chapel a priory for Augustinian canons. That was about 1153, and a little later the priory became a centre for pilgrimages, thanks, it appears, to the interest taken in it by Henry III and Edward I, who visited Walsingham often and gave presents. ...
Destroyed in 1538 at the Reformation.
Of the remains by far the most impressive piece is the E wall of the church, with a very large window and two turrets. The buttresses are lavishly and handsomely decorated with flushwork and three niches, one on top of the other. ...

Click on photos below too enlarge

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SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM. The new Anglican shrine was built in 1931-7. Design by Miller & Craze. It is a disappointing building, of brick, partly whitewashed, and looking for all its ambitions like a minor suburban church. Italianate brick portico. Campanile by the (ritual) E end. There is not sufficient evidence to justify the claim that the new shrine stands where the Holy House had been ... Within the Shrine Church is the new Holy House, a supposed recreation of the house of the Annunciation in Nazareth. 

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The grounds of the church 

The story goes that Lady Richeldis had a vision in which she was taken by Mary and shown the house in Nazareth where Gabriel had announced the news of the birth of Jesus (the Annunciation). Mary asked her to build a replica of the house in Walsingham. It was a simple wooden structure and some years later, a priory was built around the house. This became a place of pilgrimage, even drawing Kings from Henry III to Henry VIII (who then had it destroyed in 1538).

There are conflicting accounts of the dates of the Lady Richeld/ Richelde/ Richeldis. Some say she was a Saxon noblewoman and had the vision in 1061, five years before the Norman Conquest. Others say she was Norman and had the vision in 1100 or later.


Website of the Anglican Shrine

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