Little WalsinghamLittle Walsingham lies
approximately 5 miles south of
In 1061, the Blessed Virgin
appeared to Lady Richeldis de Fauvraches in Walsingham
and instructed her to build a house in the village - modelled on
the Holy House in Nazareth.
Walsingham Abbey: refectory window
Lady Richeldis de Fauvraches
constructed a wooden hut close to the location of her
vision and this soon became one of the most important
pilgrimage centres during the Middle Ages. A number of
English kings visited the village - including Henry VIII
who walked the last mile barefoot.
During the 12th
Century an Augustinian abbey was built on
the banks of the River Stiffkey nearby. Today, all that remains
of the abbey is the east wall with its high Gothic
window, parts of the refectory and a picturesque
packhorse bridge across the river. The priory was
destroyed during the Reformation.
features in a number of poems - the oldest being Piers Plowman by William Langland (c.1330 -
Our Lady of Walsingham
There once the
penitents took off their shoes
And then walked barefoot the remaining mile;
And the small trees, a stream and hedgerows file
Slowly along the munching English lane,
Like cows to the old shrine, until you lose
Track of your dragging pain.
The stream flows down under the druid tree,
Shiloah’s whirlpools gurgle and make glad
The castle of God. Sailor, you were glad
And whistled Sion by that stream. But see:
too small for her canopy,
Sits near the altar. There’s no comeliness
At all or charm in that expressionless
Face with its heavy eyelids. As before,
This face, for centuries a memory,
Non est species, neque decor.
Expressionless, expresses God: it goes
Past castled Sion. She knows what God knows,
Not Calvary’s Cross nor crib at Bethlehem
Now, and the world shall come to Walsingham.