Sometimes I'm amazed at how little I know about my own country and its history: I didn't know a place like Walsingham existed until a couple of weeks ago. During medieval times, this was the second most popular destination for pilgrims in England - Canterbury was the first - all because Lady Richeldis had visions of the Virgin Mary in 1061.
Today pilgrims still make their way to Walsingham and shrines and churches of the Catholic, Anglican and Russian Orthodox faiths are crammed into an otherwise small village. Many of the houses seem to be used for housing pilgrims, with glazed pottery plaques dedicated to the saints adorning their walls. I say seem as the door of the one dedicated to St. Anne opened whilst we were passing to reveal a bent old lady intent on watering her potted plants. This made me think some of them might be almshouses. Even the village shops are in on the act - there's a gift shop with a nice line in the largest, most ornate crib scenes you could ever wish for, even in June. The secondhand bookshop reflects the village's heritage in name, stock and the appearance of its owner in the window (click on the picture for a larger image). Here Theology takes up half of the shop's space and Gardening is reduced to sitting alongside others on the single shelf dedicated to Hobbies.
The entrance to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham has a Mediterranean feel to it reminiscent of a Spanish patio garden. It's a place unlike any other I've been to in the UK - the link gives you a good idea of what's there. Inside all is candles, ornate carvings and little notices like the one pictured. Outside again, at the back is a lush, peaceful garden containing lots of lavender, alliums, geraniums, roses and waving Stipa gigantea. It was a lovely spot for a quiet stroll and the shrine's refectory did a very nice, reasonably priced cup of tea and coffee to round off our visit before we took the steam train back to Wells-Next-The-Sea. NAH now has lots of incentive to keep on with his low very fat diet as he's managed to reduce his cholesterol level to an acceptable one without needing to take tablets, so we didn't have any of the tempting cakes on offer :(
PS W is also for... WaterAid. Our choir will be taking part in Sing for Water South West in Bristol on Saturday, a major fundraiser for this very Worthwhile charity. I'll be telling you more about it on Friday. In the meantime, you might like to have a look at my Open Garden blog. This will tell you all about my Sing for Water experiences in London last year as well as giving you a full tour of my garden.
For more Wonderful posts, do visit the ABC Wednesday blog.