7. Vicars of Walsingham 1921-2021



Earlier this year, we marked the 100th Anniversary of the Induction of Fr Alfred Hope Patten as Vicar of Walsingham. Had he not gone on to restore the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, many of us would probably not be here this morning!

As part of our celebration of this Centenary, we are delighted to have published ‘Vicars of Walsingham 1921 – 2021’, by Fr William Davage, sometime Librarian of Pusey House, Oxford. It is an eminently readable history of the eight Vicars of this Benefice, from Fr Patten to Fr Williams inclusive and, at just £10, a real bargain!

In his Foreword, David Hope, former Archbishop of York, comments:

“the Vicars of Walsingham is a fascinating insight into each of their backgrounds, their personalities, the challenges they faced in the parish and the sensitivities needed in their relationships with the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.”

“it is a very readable and hugely encouraging account of eight very different people called by God to serve his Church on earth.”

“it could also be construed as a very practical and down to earth account of the catholic movement in the Church of England over 100 years.”

In his conclusion Fr Davage  states:

For more than the hundred years surveyed in these pages, Walsingham has witnessed to the Catholic Faith. It has remained at its heart a Norfolk village but with an acknowledged and special place beyond its parochial boundaries in the Catholic Movement and in the Church of England.

It has not been untroubled by the turmoil of the times; nor has it been without controversy in its recent past, as in its more distant past, as the 100 years covered by this book bear witness. Fr Alan Roe had to succeed one of the major figures of Anglo-Catholic history and his sudden death. Fr Roe’s own ill-health meant that his successor, Fr John Barnes, had to re-establish a pattern of ministry and worship. Fr Michael Rear’s succession was the most straightforward of this century of the parish’s life but his leaving was the most traumatic, as he had to face the most serious fissure in Anglo-Catholicism and the wider church in the 20th century. Fr Haydon entered into a depleted and fractured inheritance. His tenure was abrupt, cut short by personal circumstances. Although Fr Norman Banks’ leaving Walsingham was to episcopal office, a tribute to the parish as to his own qualities, it necessitated a period for the parish of suspended animation until Fr Andrew Mitcham’s appointment. His leaving was also abrupt and occluded his previous work. Fr Harri Williams came to a wounded parish and one conscious of its history and its more recent past, of good and ill. He brought his skills and determination to meet the challenges.

If Walsingham has reflected the highs and lows of life as it has been lived these hundred years, it has been constant in its witness to God, incarnate in his Son, Jesus Christ, and the working of the Holy Spirit; and its dedication to God’s own Mother, Our Lady of Walsingham."

Copies are available at the back of Church, and payment can be made by cash or cheque into the ‘Bookstall’ slot near the Font, or via our Contactless Payment Terminal. Alternatively, use the 'Contact Us' drop-down tab on this website to order a copy using the enquiry form.


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