Our Lady's Mirror

Spring 1954

John Mason Neale
At the end of last year we had a shock. On asking a builder to look at the Pilgrims’ refectory, with a view to some necessary repairs, we were told the whole roof was unsafe and that it was a miracle that it had not crashed down upon us all. The beams and rafters were found to have rotted in places – over eighteen inches beyond the walls, and the place was unsafe to use. It was a matter of Hobson’s choice and either we should have had to stop feeding pilgrimages of any size indefinitely, or put our roof in order, and making an act of faith the Administrator and Bursar have taken the plunge. However, a small amount left us by will just at this time enabled us to begin, but it was discovered that it was all much worse than anticipated and at the very least £500 will have to be made up somehow. During the repairs certain improvements have been made in the approach as the stairs hitherto used have been so difficult for the aged and sick. By the time this reaches you, the upper sacristy will be ready for use and two vestment chests in place; these are the result of a sum over from the Bowker and Wilmot Phillips memorial and the other a gift from Mrs Brackley. The North wing of the college, i.e. the cottages in course of restoration is slowly getting into shape. We hope when the work is completed to be able to provide a home for two or more elderly priests who can afford to contribute to their own maintenance. The snow and repeated bad weather have held the development up a lot. Opposite the new approach to the Refectory a small garden is being put into shape in memory of William. Some rose trees have been planted as a beginning, but we want to put up a column with a plaque to complete the memorial. This will cost round about £30 to complete. The café has changed hands again and Miss Downer and a friend have taken it. All pilgrims and visitors are recommended to use it to the fullest. We can personally guarantee the excellent coffee, and Miss Downer is a splendid cook and cake maker. We have had to have the parish church – S. Mary’s – inspected and, as some of you know, we got another shock. It is in urgent need of repair – roof and all – and the estimate is “at least £7,000”. No wonder our hairs are turning grey! The Hostel of SS. Michael and George has been started and we are most fortunate in having Mr and Mrs Fred Shepherd in charge. The house is in High Street. Forty new council houses are being built in Walsingham, and so we are expecting a change round. The memorial to Bishop O’Rorke has been ordered, despite the fact that we still need round about £50 to foot the bills when they come in. We were intending to close the fund in March, but the replies to the notices sent out have been very slow, and we have been obliged to postpone the closing day. Have you sent yet? The Catholic League members have responded very well, and the League has sent £25 to endow a Chantry Mass for the Bishop, which is linked up with the memorial which is to be an altar tomb erected over the Bishop’s grave, supporting a fully vested figure of Dr. O’Rorke and covered by a hanging tester. The place where his memorial is to be placed was pointed out to him before and at his last visit, and he was both charmed and amused when told the form of it. It would be a gracious act for the Societies who have altars in the pilgrimage church to identify themselves with the memorial, for we all owe a great debt of gratitude to Bishop O’Rorke. Talking about Societies who have altars here, we wonder if they realise that when this connection was granted to them it was understood that each would make itself responsible for the upkeep and furnishing of its particular chapel. C.B.S., G.S.S., Catholic League, S.O.L.W. realise this and do their part manfully. But there are other Societies who do nothing officially. If they appreciate this connection with Our Lady’s Shrine, they ought to help support it. articles: 'OLW and Ipswich'; 'John Mason Neale and the Society of St Margaret'; Auceps, 'Church Street Diary' [birdwatching]; A T John Salter, Nostre Padre Jesus del Gran Poder' and 'Nuestra Senora de la Esperanza'; Silas M Harris, 'Our Lady of Cardigan'; Hugh Ross-Williamson, 'The Canon of the Mass' [continued] photographs: John Mason Neale [above] and Mother Kate SSM; Our Lady of Walsingham and Ipswich; two drawings by John Salter; the tomb of S George at Lydda