Walsingham Review 8

extracts from Walsingham Review Number 8 March 1963
Walsingham Notes Fr Anderson, Vicar of St John’s, Coventry, and for many years a staunch supporter of Walsingham, has been elected as a Priest Guardian. He will be installed at the Autumn Chapter as at the time of the Spring Chapter, he will be on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and perhaps by happy chance will be at Nazareth itself. The winter gives us a chance to try and clean the Shrine. Few people have any idea of the soot which covers everything from the constant burning of candles and lamps. During Lent we shall close the Holy House for a little and try to clean the walls and the reredos, which are so dirty in places that the painting is hard to see and this is after only three years! During this period the Image of Our Lady will be enshrined in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit behind the High Altar. This Chapel, which is cared for by the Guild of Servants of the Sanctuary, has recently been panelled in wood through the skill of Mr Yabsley, as we find that hangings of material get dirty so very quickly. Mr Yabsley has already left his mark on the Shrine in more ways than this as he has made some simple Stations of the Cross to go on the Pillars so that in wet weather parties can make the Stations without blocking the passage past the Holy House. The existing Stations are still there for private use. Amongst the many new things in the Shop will be found such things as Missal Stands, Candlesticks and Credence Tables designed in wood by Mr Yabsley and lest he should have too much spare time, he is fitting up an extra sacristy with cupboards and vesting bench. Among new things which will be seen shortly in the Shrine Church are wrought iron gates on either side of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, which will prevent it being used as a thoroughfare, and new paintings as a reredos for St George’s Chapel and St Lawrence’s Chapel. These have been executed by Mr Anthony Baynes, who has already painted the murals in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Recent work of his which has been much admired are the murals in the restored Town Hall at Portsmouth, the new Stock Exchange Dining Room and the Civic Centre at Solihull which was opened by the Queen last year. In spite of a spirited appeal every Saturday evening we ended the season with most of the processional candle shades destroyed by burning. Now we are investigating the possibility of having strong paper ones made and printed with the pilgrim hymn. These could be taken away as souvenirs, which might make the use of them more careful to see that the flame does not scorch the sides. The Walsingham Book for Mary Month is at last in print and costs 3/6d, which is expensive, but it is splendidly produced. I sent two copies to a friend in the Vatican asking him, if he thought fit, to give one to Holy Father with my greetings. He writes “one of the copies was submitted immediately to the Holy Father with your salutations and I now wish to thank you in His name and to convey His cordial greetings to you.” So you see it has the highest Imprimatur! As I heard, the head of the Methodist Church gave him a copy of the Methodist Hymnal and he will be able to use the Mary Month book while singing “The old rugged Cross”. Fr James Halfhill came back to the College from America to help at Christmas and while I was away on holiday in January. Unfortunately his back has gone wrong again and he has had to spend most of his time here lying flat. That is the reverse of what one usually hopes the effect of coming to Walsingham will be! The College has been joined by Mr Anthony Burge, who will be known as Brother Giles and who we hope will be happy working at the Shrine. The Abbot of Nashdom will conduct a retreat for members of the College from March 11th-17th. One of the oldest Priest Associates is the Archdeacon of Malta, Fr Bailey, who is Chaplain at Florence. He was born in Norfolk and when the Shrine was first set up in St Mary’s he was Vicar of St George’s Tombland, Norwich, and came often on pilgrimage. He has been Chaplain at Florence since 1934 and many visitors must have been glad to find that lovely little church of St Mark in Via Maggia, which reminds one so much of the Annunciation, Brighton, and really looks like a church inside. The Administrator was in Florence in January and was able to say Mass at St Mark’s and hear a lot about the early days at Walsingham from the Archdeacon. Together they visited the Monastery of San Miniato where the Abbot is a great lover of the Church of England and was most kind and welcoming. Miss Chadwick has designed for the CLA a charming card for use during Lent, rather like the German Advent cards in which one opens little doors as the season progresses. It is called “The Way to Easter” and costs 2/6d and should lighten the penitential season. The Walsingham Calendars sold so well that they had all gone before Christmas and we had to disappoint a lot of people. The lesson of that is “order early to avoid disappointment”. Gradually we are getting the Shrine equipped with kneelers and there are now 42 of the plain blue with a crowned M in gold and a dozen of various and elaborate designs in the Holy House. They represent an enormous amount of work and devotion and the whole project has been organised by Miss M O’Farrell, Vicarage Flat, and it is still going on so she will be glad of any more volunteers for making kneelers. So many people have written saying they like to have news of the cats that I am emboldened to include some. They love having me in bed with flu and take charge of the sick room. The little girl acts as nurse and hardly leaves me, but I regret to say her brother comes mostly at meal times to steal things off my tray – so often people without religion are kinder than those who ought to know better! I am so tired of being pushed out of bed at night that I now insist they sleep in the airing cupboard and I put them there after Compline. It is like persuading children to go to bed as the little boy immediately pretends he has found a mouse and uses every delaying tactic possible. Strange Bedfellows Bishop Bertram Pollock would have been very surprised to find himself hailed as one of the restorers of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, but it was his action in requiring the image to be removed from the parish church which directly led to the rebuilding of the Holy House. There are few things in the Church of England which have changed in recent decades more completely than the sort of men who are now appointed as bishops. Bertram Pollock was one of the old school. When clergy came in from the country to see him he used to give them a packet of sandwiches and an apple and tell them they might eat them in the garden! He had been a schoolmaster, he had a very legalistic mind and he was very much persona grata with the royal family, so according to the judgement of his period, he was “just the man for the Bishopric of Norwich”. On the other hand, in spite of his limitations he probably did a good deal better as a bishop than might have been expected and he certainly admired parish clergy who did their job. More than one person has heard him speak with admiration of Father Patten’s pastoral work at Walsingham and their personal relationship, if a little strained at times, remained on the whole cordial. It may be of some interest to record an issue on which they were in complete accord – it was opposition to the Revised Prayer Book. I have some letters which have been preserved and which throw light on this and are amusing in the record they give of a controversy, the heat of which a younger generation can hardly imagine. Unfortunately Fr Patten kept no copies of his letters to the Bishop on this subject, but he obviously fired the first salvo and in a letter dated August 3rd 1927, the Bishop replied: “My dear Vicar This is very kind of you. Thank you so much, the flank attack which the Doctors are now making on my veins, through the colon, is, thank God, being successful. As to your letter, those who are against the contentious parts of the new book are I think, in spite of other wide divergence, agreed that this is not the time, that the Ch Ass [sic] is too novel to have the real authority, for such revision and also that it will not bring a settlement. I believe much might be done to stop the book if the Anglo Caths [sic] in large numbers, to arrest attention, said that they were not going to observe the rules. I have put this badly, I mean it would do good if those who have made up their minds not to observe the rules would say so now. I believe they are nobly deterred by not wishing disrespectfully to threaten the Bishops, and they prefer quietly to ignore the book if it passes. But of course such action will not do anything to prevent its passing and I think if such an intention to ignore the rules is widespread it could be made public in a non- threatening way and impress people at large and this would help to prevent the book going through. So far various Anglo Cath bodies seem to be not closely united in any policy: the only opposition that will tell is something solid and, so far as may be coherent. With kind messages. Yrs very sincerely B NORVIC” On August 5th he took up his pen again to reply to Fr HP: “Your words are very kind. I have no objection to your sharing my friendly letter to you with friends, it was not carefully written, nor of course for publication. But I think that both Anglo-Catholics and the “Protestant Underworld” would agree in the three points I mentioned (1) Wrong time – general instability and inconsistency (2) Church Ass’s authority at any rate too little established (3) No prospect of peace and contentment. I believe my proposals about uncontentious (I well know the difficulty of defining) parts being sanctioned, and these going forward bit by bit is by no means so foolish as the leading authorities suppose. I certainly think that a disclosure of actual facts as to the observance of the rules of the new book could be made without any look of threats.” On August 21st he writes with increasing warmth: “How good of you to write like this. Let us indeed remember one another. I regard your letter as very important, but surely if the attitude of the ECU is as you describe, this ought to be known and published beforehand for is it not better to prevent the Book passing than to make it a failure when it has passed! You know my practical turn of mind. Is there anything that I, an outsider, can usefully do in the matter? With so many thanks for your welcome.” By 11th September they were marching shoulder to shoulder: “Your letter is very kind. It is very strange and very happy that you and I with such different views should write to one another in such a spirit of happy fellowship. I am deeply interested in what you tell me. I dare say there was no great harm in your meeting being small in view of the coming bigger meeting. A small number may be got together more closely. I am interested to hear that you are going to send your resolution to the public press this week, and I much hope that the Communication will be so phrased as to show the Signatories represent a much larger body than themselves. I am more and more sure that publicity is desirable. I think the middle of October would be the very best time for the meeting of the ECU; it will come with great weight just then. I suppose the point before the ECU will be the question of their attitude if any Bishop takes mild or drastic steps with any parson to enforce the Book, and I can scarcely believe that any Section of the ECU is likely to say that its attitude will be to look on and say and write nothing. It will be a great pleasure to see you again one day as developments come along. I cannot deny that in spite of my deeply religious interest in all these questions, there is a practical turn in me which leads me to consider that it is a great mistake that all the relevant facts should not be known and open to the eyes of all before Parliament makes its decision. It seems to me the greatest folly that so grave a decision should be made on any misapprehension or on any incomplete data. PS You speak of the lion’s mouth I suppose your letter was running in my head this morning, when I pictured myself as the victim in one of the psalms of the day, Psalm 57 (‘my soul is among lions’). On 26th September he writes: “I have had a kind letter from the Vicar of St Andrew’s, Leicester, and I think I may be able to help to get the manifesto published, but I have suggested to him that we had better wait until public life is in full swing again, and meantime he can amass, I suppose, many more signatures. Do you think there is any way in which it would be possible to induce the ECU to announce beforehand (if, as I think you told me, it is true) that if any steps beyond suasion were taken by any Bishop against any incumbent who transgressed the new Book, the ECU would close up their ranks again and unite in his defence as a martyr?” It is a charming thought that at this time Fr Patten’s Diocesan was urging him to disobedience. On October 6th the Bishop wrote: “Having read this morning’s Times, I have a further suggestion to make to you, and that is that if the FCP follows the lead that you have given, and if their numbers at all correspond to the thirteen hundred who went and saw the Archbishop the other day, this body should also seek for an interview with the Archbishop which would be reported in the Press. No doubt, it would be more advantageous for general information if the ECU could be induced to announce publicly that though some were and some were not in favour of the new Book, they would become united in opposing, etc. etc.” Not many days passed without letters going back and forth between Norwich and Walsingham. One October 20th he wrote: “I quite understand the opinion of the meeting being against a visit to Lambeth because all the way through those who are associated with you have shown a dignified reserve and a desire to avoid anything like a threatening attitude. But those who do not wish the Book to be passed, I think are right in disclosing such facts as will tend to its rejection. I see no reason why you should not mention to others my own view, if it is worth hearing, on these subjects; indeed if it served any good purpose. I would be very glad to see you and others on the subject. I am limiting what I am writing now merely to the grounds of common sense which seems to say to me – if there are facts which exist and the recognition of which would now tend to hinder the passing of the Book, it is better to make them known now, than when it is too late and the Book has passed, to let these same facts develop themselves in such a way as to tend to the failure of the Book!” On October 24th he enclosed a cutting from the Sunday Times which said that the Government were not unwilling to support the Archbishop if he could give them assurances from the Episcopal Bench and leading Anglo-Catholics that the new Book would be accepted as a settlement and not a good jumping-off ground for further ‘Romanisms’. In his letter he says: “If those who are associated with you do not make known their numbers and weight, it will be quite easy for it to be assumed either that the second set of assurances given by some are assurances given by all, or that it is only a small unimportant section easily to be ignored, which stands outside the assurances!” What Fr Hope Patten had written next is hard to reconstruct from the enigmatic answer he got on November 2nd: “What a future you picture for the Diocese of Norwich! ! Do not let one present man block the future for all, nor hesitate to act independently of him, however eminent, if it becomes necessary to do so.” Fr Patten was to remember this advice in other circumstances! That winter the Prayer Book measure was defeated in Parliament, but the correspondence did not cease and there are several letters in 1928 urging Fr Patten to organise opposition to the renewed proposals. In his autobiography A Twentieth Century Bishop Pollock wrote of those he had joined in this affair “We were a mixed and motley, and miscellaneous crowd and I even became a hero to some members of the Anglo Catholic Section as we united on this issue with one another, though our motives were divergent!”
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