Featured on 30th April 2021
Before the Reformation, Walsingham was one of the most famous shrines in Europe. After the Reformation, the church of St Mary's became an Anglican place of worship and it was not until the 1950s that a Roman Catholic church, in the form of a brick-faced hut, returned to Little Walsingham.
Although the hut was only temporary it would be 50 years before a new modern building would be built. Under the guidance of local parishioner and architect Anthony Rossi, a revolutionary modern building was designed which would be the first carbon neutral church in the UK. It would include a large solar array on the roof and a deep bore heat exchange system for warmth.
The cost was over £1 million, for Bishop Peter requested that only the best materials would be used in constructing the church. So, on 22nd October 2006, the new Catholic Parish Church of Little Walsingham was consecrated by his successor, Bishop Michael Evans.
Approach to the church is via an open courtyard, the cross visible at the entrance was rescued from the original temporary building.
The tower cleverly echoes those traditional Norfolk round towers with its attractive brick and flint detailing was constructed with stones from an older church building. A bell donated by the Parish of Sudbury sits within the tower.
The interior is wide, open and airy – the nave extends to the west with a sanctuary on the north. Look upwards to see the open beams, look down to see functional wooden benches. There is one stained glass window, reminiscent of the Norman ancet syle.
Rossi designed most of the furnishings including the sanctuary and the font with coloured glas containers or Holy Oils displayed behind. Yet there is also evidence of that first church that was built on the site including two statues and The Stations of the Cross.
All heating and electrical installations are designed to use renewable sources and a solar energy unit displays the amount of energy created, used and stored.
This building is definitely modern. Today, Walsingham attracts around 250,000 pilgrims visit Walsingham each year. Walsingham has therefore been venerated as one of the holiest places in England, and countless people have visited the village to ask Mary to pray to Jesus on their behalf.