2. Introduction to the Benefice


The Benefice of Walsingham, Houghton, The Barshams and Hempton with Pudding Norton is unique.

Walsingham has been a place of Christian pilgrimage since the early Middle Ages and was once voted the nation’s favourite spiritual place.

The Anglican Shrine (incorporating the Holy House) in Little Walsingham and the Roman Catholic National Shrine in nearby Houghton-St-Giles attract tens of thousands of visitors each year -many of whom take the opportunity to visit our historic parish churches.

Located just four miles from the beautiful North Norfolk coast, between the market town of Fakenham and the fishing port/holiday resort of Wells-next-the-Sea, the area is also a popular tourist destination.

Though the presence of so many pilgrims and tourists has a considerable impact on village and parish life, this is essentially still a traditional rural farming community. Both the Walsingham and West Barsham Estates play a vital role in the domestic, commercial and social life of our villages as well as serving as Patrons of the Living.

Another significant part of the life of the community is our local village school. In 2013 Walsingham Primary School joined The Pilgrim Federation of four local Church Schools. This is an exciting development in the life of the parish and benefice. In addition to a daily act of Collective Worship; pupils, staff and parents attend a Service each term in S. Peter’s, S. Mary’s or at the Anglican Shrine. To find out more about Walsingham Church of England Primary School visit the 'Our School' page of this site.

With its restored shrines, historic houses, medieval timbered framed building and Religious Communities; Walsingham has been described as looking like a place where the Reformation never happened. In fact, the churchmanship of the benefice is much more diverse than that; encompassing both the Assumption, West Barsham, which uses the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the renowned “Anglo Catholic” church of S. Mary and All Saints’, Little Walsingham. Though the style of the liturgy varies in each of our six churches the Eucharist is central to our worship, with the Mass being offered daily.

The three PCCs covering the Benefice have passed a Resolution under the House of Bishops' Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests. S. Mary’s is affiliated to The Society and episcopal care across the benefice is shared between the Bishop of Norwich and the Bishop of Richborough.

To find out more about the fascinating history of our seven parish churches - why not visit their individual pages?

Elsewhere on this website you will also find details of our worship times and also news of forthcoming social and fundraising events, lectures and concerts.

We hope you enjoy exploring the site.


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