Our Lady's Mirror

Summer 1945

The grant of arms to the College of Guardians
So VE-Day has come! What an extraordinary sense of relief: and how well and calmly everyone seems to have taken the good news here in the country. How thankful we must all be that the Shrine has escaped the horror of destruction by fire and bomb which so many a holy place has suffered. Bombs were dropped during the last five and a half years over all our neighbouring villages. Walsingham and Houghton alone excepted. There was a little machine-gun firing from German planes, and in the early years of the war hedge-hopping over the fields just east of the Vicarage and around us, and planes passing over us nightly. But it does seem that our Lady spread her mantle over her Holy House and that she, together with the Holy Angels, has been the special protectress of the Shrine and the village. A few small pilgrimages have already been to the Shrine, but as yet the transport arrangements are so difficult that great numbers are debarred from travel. The black-out is coming down, and what a difference it makes to everything. The Administrator has not been particularly well for some time, and after Easter he took a brief rest, which will, we hope, at least tide him over until a proper holiday can be arranged. The Bursar, too, needs a good long holiday. Visitors and others to do realise the strain involved in a work such as Walsingham. Most people have one job to do, such as Parish Priest or Assistant Priest, or some other professional task; but here the Administrator and Bursar have between them three parishes, the organising the running of the Pilgrimage Church and pilgrimages, the care of the Community of our Lady of Walsingham, the provision for and management of the Children’s Home, the responsibilities and oversight of the Choir School, with all the difficult financial worries incumbent upon all these various departments. It is not surprising therefore that the strain is often almost beyond human endurance, and with no prospect of adequate help there are times when it seems impossible to carry on. Clients of O.L.W. are already asking in what way they can make thanksgiving for victory and safety. The Chapter passed a plan for the preservation of the ancient foundations, and for building the North Walk of the Cloister containing a special Memorial Chapel, together with a Muniment and Chapter Room above. Plans, etc., will be out shortly. Particulars of this we hope to be able to publish in the next Mirror. CHOIR SCHOOL The School is to move from its temporary quarters to the Vicarage in August. This is a nice airy house with good grounds and playing field. By the time of the move we shall have our new and permanent name, as the School is now separated from Quainton Hall, Harrow, and is an independent part of the Shrine educational scheme. Father Eyden supervised the first year of the School at Walsingham and remained Head Master, with Mr Batts as Deputy Head. Mr and Mrs Batts are leaving at the end of this term; they have had a most difficult year under the very trying conditions in temporary premises, and have tided over the move of the School and the first three terms in a way few others could have done, as they know all the Long Marston boys. Father Eyden will no longer be Head Master, but we are happy in having secured Mr Thomas Tapping, B.A., Lond., now at Barnard Castle School, C. Durham, and Mrs Tapping, M.A., Lond., for our new staff. Mr Tapping will be Head Master. THE CHILDREN’S HOME Wednesday, June 13th, is our move day, when the family leaves its war-time refuge, the Vicarage, for its own home. The house we are purchasing stands high and in its own grounds, commanding a lovely view over the vale of the Stiffkey; among the trees the Shrine tower stands up boldly, and in the far distance the spire of S. Mary’s Church points heavenwards. We think we shall be proud of showing our visitors round our house, and when you come to Walsingham be sure you ask the way to S. Hilary’s. Father Fynes-Clinton, that untiring and most devoted of all the friends of Walsingham, led the annual Catholic League Pilgrimage to the Shrine at Whitsun. Among the pilgrims was Bishop Savva, the Orthodox Chaplain General of the Polish forces in this country. The Bishop was at one time Assistant Bishop to the Diocesan of Warsaw, and is now the Diocesan of Grodno. With him came a small Orthodox Choir who sang at the dedication of the Chapel in the Pilgrimage Church, which was placed under the patronage of our Lady of Perpetual Succour – as we know it in the West. After the dedication the Liturgy was sung for the first time in this Chapel, the Eastern Mass having been celebrated in the past at the High Altar of the Shrine Church. The Chapel was packed to overflowing, as too were the stairs approaching it. At the end of the Liturgy all received the blessed Bread from the hands of the Bishop. On Whit-Sunday his Lordship preached at the High Mass in the Parish Church, and in the afternoon they offered the Moleben in the Holy House. IT CAN NOW BE TOLD [by Enid Chadwick] One afternoon in June the members of the Little Walsingham First Aid Point were formally dismissed. Perhaps some of us felt that the hours we had spent in attending lectures, regular meetings and practices at the Point, exercises with the Home Guard and Wardens, and exams had been a waste of time. We little knew that in the dark hours of 1940 and 1941 we were recognised by the military authorities as an “advanced dressing station”. The Commandant for our area, who is a most excellent speaker and can make even anti-gas lectures inspiring, revealed some of the secrets which had been kept from us while we plodded on with our splints and triangular bandages – not to speak of the intricacies of roller bandaging. She told us that what was generally spoken of in those two years as the “possibility of invasion” was called by those in command the “imminent probability of invasion”. It was expected that the Germans would make a bridgehead of north- west Norfolk, landing parachutists in vast numbers, and blowing the bridge at Lynn so that they had a line running south from the Wash, as well as the north and east coasts. Our troops would not attempt to defend all this area; they would have their first line of defence along the road connecting Hunstanton, Lynn, Fakenham and Dereham, behind which all mobile units of First Aid and nursing would have to assemble. Thus Walsingham was planned to be evacuated and handed over to the enemy – indeed, it would have been in the very front line of attack. (One evening the command for these units to move south of the road actually came through; it was not an exercise.) The Home Guard only would be left to fight a delaying action, and the little village First Aid Points would be the sole means of rendering comfort to the wounded. That was why, we were told, we were suddenly plunged into a course of Home Nursing; and that was why our leaders were issued with hypodermic syringes, which must inevitably have been needed with numbers of wounded coming in and no doctors available. The military kept up-to-date records of all the Points and those who manned them. We were not needed, but we were no more “useless” than the guns which bristled threateningly along our beaches. [E M Chadwick] articles: 'The Community of the Resurrection'; A Naval Chaplain in Far Eastern Waters, 'Our Lady Star of the Sea' photographs: The grant of arms to the College of Guardians [above]; two illustrations by Enid Chadwick of the Chapel of the Resurrection and the Chapel of the Holy Cross, both at Mirfield