A Pilgrim to see Our Lady of Walsingham Shrine and the Venerated Statue
Wanna know something? When we first heard about the Walsingham Shrine, we kinda were put off by the stories of prior pilgrims…
We were informed that the accommodations were not something to write home about…That pilgrims slept in dormitory like arrangements with shared bathrooms and conveniences.
Now don’t get me wrong, a bit of discomfort never hurt anyone esp. on a pilgrimage! Yet, if you are like me, I love my sleep! I will not have anything interfere with my sleep…And having grown up in boarding school, I can tell you, dormitory sleeping arrangement’s usually have a Snorer per excellence or maybe a farter Oops…
At my age, I can do without that. Neither do I wish any stranger to start saying I snore like the Great North train lol.
Then maybe we had divine intervention or something…But this year, we decided to go get some of the Holy blessings that come from visiting said Walsingham shrine…
Well there was the small matter of, availability of some en-suite rooms in the chosen accommodation providers. We had to get in there fast if we were to bag ourselves one of them en-suite rooms. So, we did!
Can I just put it out there, that we humans must learn to make our own judgments…? And as a coach you may say, what the heck! I am glad we decided to see for ourselves and experience the spiritual rebirth we felt in Walsingham!
BUT I don’t want to do spoiler alerts here so read on…
Our date of departure arrived and we went to our Parrs Luxury Coach to set off for Little Walsingham at 9:30am! I must say the Coach was just okay when it comes to “Luxury Coaches”
No WiFi or somewhere to stash your book at the back of the seats, our bottle or glass holders were broken on our seats. Other than that, it was okay and our driver Chris was a good man! Always checking to ensure everyone was on the bus before setting off every time we stopped!
We had a very serene trip. We started off with saying the Holy Rosary and setting our intentions for the Pilgrimage, and I did what I do best on long trips, I grabbed some kip! 😉
We stopped for a spot of lunch and leg stretch in the small market town of Newark, which is pretty quaint.
No time for strolling around the market, we headed off for the final leg of our Road trip and got to Walsingham at just gone 4pm GMT.
So, let’s start off our trip with…
[RECOMMENDED: A RUN DOWN TO CHRISTMAS IN LIVERPOOL]
Day #1 Pilgrimage to Walsingham Shrine
Can I just say the Walsingham roads are pretty narrow, and I mean narrow! We noticed that it’s a truly little village. Others call it the “Nazareth of England,” we could see why.
Our buses had to reverse into the accommodation parking every time and every time there was a car coming from the opposite side, we prayed they would get past!
The farm roads were as expected, narrow but passable!
We were welcomed by a lady at Elmham House our accommodation for the Pilgrimage. It is also the official Walsingham shrine accommodation! TWIT
We already knew our room number i.e. Room W. So, all we needed were the keys. We found our room nestled behind the grounds chapel on the first floor!
I can say without hesitation that it was Just Great. Spacious, clean, looked new. It was an en-suite twin room!
We had a shower, hand-basin and WC, colour television and tea and coffee making facilities. Soap and towels laid on the hot towel rail, nice and warm from the cold outside!
We had 4 hangers in the wardrobe plus shelving, enough for a 3-day visit. Tea and coffee making facilities included. With milk, sugar, sweeteners, coffees and teas. We were pleasantly surprised…And were glad we didn’t let the stories of earlier pilgrims keep us away from visiting the Walsingham Shrine any longer
Can I just mention that the Walsingham water is super hard…I mean it is truly hard. As you wash your hands and rinse them, they feel sticky, like you are washing in water with sap in it! That was weird!
We had our first Mass with our St Margaret Mary’s Parish priest Rev Fr Ian McParland who was the leader of our Pilgrimage! This was at Elmham House Chapel. It was a beautiful service!
We were all dressed up in our Christmas finery aka Jumpers, and others had headgear, lights and extras added after the mass! 😊
And immediately after the mass, we had a truly awesome Christmas Dinner experience. A full 3 Course Dinner including:
- Starters – included fruits or prawn cocktail salad!
- Full Roasted Turkey stuffed ham, Roasted vegetables of carrots, new potatoes, parsnips, Brussel sprouts, Cranberry sauce and gravy!
- Christmas cake dessert, or Lemon meringue pie!
- Plus, mince pies, teas and coffees, mince chocolates and lots of merry making.
We sang Christmassy songs, carols, drank some wines, sherries and stuff. 😉 We left by 11pm as we wanted to rest up a bit for the next day!
Day #2 Pilgrimage to Walsingham Shrine
We set our alarm for 7am and we were up in time. I must say, we had a good night’s rest and apart from the hardness of the water for shower and brush purposes, we were fine. In November, be sure to dress up warm for the day, we did. Breakfast was served for 8:40am.
The breakfast was a choice of continental breakfast and/or a cooked breakfast, most people had both! There was a fully kitted fruit stand with yogurts as well!
The cooked breakfast included a poached egg, potato hash, mushrooms, steamed tomato, and baked beans. With a choice of bran or white bread, and croissants! I say that was pretty filling and tasty too.
There was also tea and coffee.
All Pilgrims then met in front of the chapel with our Lady of Walsingham Statue ready for the walk to the Walsingham Catholic Shrine!
We set off on a slow steady walk past the “Quiet Garden” onto the Pilgrimage mile long walk to the Slipper chapel and shrine shop. It is truly a village walk.
We said the rosary as we walked and kept a steady pace on this rather grey cold day. The views across the farmland were beautiful, serene, fresh and one felt at peace with nature and life. I felt like I had a real moment to get closer to my inner man, to state my intentions and offer up my vision for my life, family, loved ones, and the coming year!
Everyone should have a time to reconnect with your inner man and feel at one with nature, after all we are part of nature. We arrived at the shrine and…Others call it the “Nazareth of England,” we could see why.
The Catholic Walsingham Shrine – Our Experience
The first site is of the Slipper Chapel and it is a small church. Having been used to Basilicas in Rome, Assisi, etc, we had expected to see such a site… We could not fathom where it was in the middle of “nowhere” as it seemed.
So, we were kinda surprised to see a medium sized structure as the Basilica of our Lady of Reconciliation, Walsingham shrine.
It is an unassuming structure with lots of external benches and a car park for a few cars. Although it also has space for at least 3 coaches parking!
We also took a look and bought a few memorabilia from the Walsingham shrine gift shop. Some of the pilgrims had a warming tea/coffee inside the shrine café.
Right outside the café as you walk back towards the Basilica are 5 taps that pilgrims can collect Holy water from the shrine.
Here is a funny story:
I went straight to the tap. Pressed it put my hand under the tap and drank strait from my palm. One of the pilgrims was filling up his water bottle…he looked at me in shock and said: I don’t think this water is for drinking…What it is, you buy a bottle from the gift shop, and fill it up here. You can take to people back home and gift them with water from the shrine…”
I was laughing hilariously. I told him, I believe it is Holy water thus, its cleansing and blessing me as opposed to causing me any harm and that is that!
OH for the believer huh! 😉
Anyway, the holy water aside, we checked out the various sites on the Shrine site, including the Walsingham Slipper chapel.
Which is tiny, and according to folklore, the pilgrims of old, used to take off their slippers, leave them inside the chapel and walk barefoot to the village to atone for their sins, irrespective of the season. Man, it was a very cold day so, imagine then… Wow!
We bought some gifts from the gift shop. Lit some candles for family and went for the mass.
It was a full Mass with the Basilica Chaplain and our Parish priest. Again, we made our intentions known and prayed for our loved ones. Once done, we headed for our buses and went back to our Hotel in more comfort!
Lunch was provided for at Elmham House and we were so very grateful for that. Sandwiches and soup, tea and coffee. Just what the doctor ordered.
We had an hour of venerating the Holy Eucharist in the chapel onsite and it was quite moving, as we prayed for our loved ones who are struggling with ill health!
Then we went back to our room for a rest and getting ready for the Christmas spectacular in Thursford Village!
Dinner was served at 4:30pm. Simple fish and chips plus mashed peas, tea, coffee and lemon meringue pie. An assortment of vegetable salads and fruits! It was just enough, having had lunch at 2pm.
We were excited for the “Christmas Spectacular“. Everyone and I mean everyone, kept telling us how amazing it is, how such fun it was gonna be and how pretty the village is at night.
We couldn’t wait, so allow me to regale you with the tale of…
The Christmas spectacular 2018
We got on the bus at 5:15pm in a sate of excitement, you could feel the buzz…The roads are narrow, we got there. And found a ton load of other buses already parked, the car park was full of cars.
We were surprised, since this is a small village. People apparently came from as far as Birmingham, Stoke on Trent, London, Bath, Liverpool, etc. No wonder there were so many buses. The site gives you sneak peak of what you’ll see from about 500 meters away.
Christmas lights on trees laid our artfully, I cannot truly explain it enough to give it credit. It is a sight to behold. Quite beautiful, you can see the images in the slideshow below to get an idea just how pretty the grounds at Thursford look.
We strolled through the over crowded markets on the ground, we managed to bag a few presents and before we knew it, it was time for the show.
A musical, London West end, hilarious comedy and dance show rolled into one
Boy what a show…It was a musical, London West end, hilarious comedy and dance show rolled into one. At £44.50 that was a steal for the pure fun, laughter and entertainment we got…
It must be seen to be fully appreciated. We believe it runs from the second last week of November right through to Christmas every Friday Night! It was a 3 Hour Show packed full of fun, laughter, and the joys of Christmas. We even had a great version of the Irish River dance.
The orchestra was Ah-mazing and the Choir sang like angels. The whole show ended with a flight of white doves from one end of the Hall to the other, balloons falling from the ceiling and of course tinsel and stuff.
The jokes were on the adult side, the comedian had us holding our sides in stitches and crying from laughing!
Truly a unique experience. One everyone who loves Christmas should experience at least once!
We headed back to our accommodation, some pilgrims chose to end the night on a high in the local pub. Paul who was exhausted from a prior trip and headed to our room for some kip.
Day #3 Pilgrimage to Walsingham Shrine
We were up at 7:10am. Ready for the Last day of our Pilgrimage. We had or breakfast, stripped our beds, handed our keys back and said Au rivour to Elmham House. We definitely shall be back, by the grace.
After breakfast we got on the bus back to the shrine for our last Mass with our parish priest. It was beautiful…I must say we love mass and immersing ourselves in our Faith!
After mass, we got on the bus, said our goodbye’s for now to The Our lady of Walsingham shrine. Headed back to Liverpool. Stop over for lunch at Newark for a spot of lunch.
We were in Liverpool on the dot of 5pm, and I can say We will be back to Walsingham. If you haven’t been and live in UK or visit look into visiting England’s little Nazareth! You will have a Spiritual renewal and maybe even a miracle, who knows! We believe it…Truly a unique experience. One everyone who loves Christmas should experience at least once!
We’d like to extend our heartfelt gratitude and vote of thanks to St Margaret Mary’s Parish, Liverpool, the organizers, Rev. Fr. Ian McParland, the Management of Elmham House and all Pilgrims for a wonderful, spiritually fulfilling, fresh and fun time we had.
May you all be blessed abundantly!
Hope you enjoyed our Pilgrimage to the Walsingham Shrine and Thursford Spectacular Review! Have you been before? If not, would you go based on our experience? We sure hope so…
ENJOY OUR VIEWS OF WALSINGHAM SHRINE AND THE THURSFORD SPECTACULAR
See, Do Be More
Dr Pauli and Julie Syl
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