Walsingham: Slipper Chapel

The Slipper Chapel

In the idyllic pastoral setting of East Anglia, in the county of Norfolk, and located just over one mile from Walsingham, stands the little Slipper Chapel, a shrine dating back to the mid 14th century. Within this tiny shrine is kept the familiar Catholic statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Our Lady of Walsingham


Slipper Chapel Altar


At this point, pilgrims would remove their shoes to walk the last mile to the holy House at Walsingham itself. Walsingham, ‘England’s Nazareth’, dates back almost a thousand years, when in 1061 a woman called Richeldis de Faverches was inspired by Mary, Mother of God, to build a Shrine in perpetual memory of her Holy Annunciation.

The Slipper Chapel is also known as the ‘Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria’, who was the patron saint of pilgrims to the Holy Land; her knights guarded the road to Nazareth during the Crusades. It became one of the greatest Shrines in Medieval Christendom, second only to Canterbury in the British Isles, at a time when pilgrimages to the Holy Land were virtually impossible.

The same sad fate befell the Slipper Chapel, as that of practically all Shrines of England and Wales’s long Catholic heritage, at the time of Henry VIII’s ‘Reformation’ (‘Deformation’?) of the Church, when the shrine was desecrated and destroyed. Falling into disuse, it was later used in various ways: as a poor house, a forge, a cowshed and a barn, but was finally restored at the end of the 19th century by Charlotte Pearson Boyd (1837-1906), a convert to Catholicism, who had bought the little building from a local farmer. She donated the restored Slipper Chapel to the Diocese of Northampton, where it passed into the care of the monks of Downside Abbey. Pope Leo XIII re-established it as a Catholic Shrine in 1897, and its final re-consecrated by Bishop Youens of Northampton took place in 1938.

Walsingham has become once again, not only a haven for Catholic pilgrims, who arrive in flocks to renew their faith and love to Jesus through Mary, but it has also grown into a place of positive, friendly Christian unity. Astonishingly, these days the Anglican presence in Walsingham is as strong as the Catholic one!

Prayer to Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham

O Mary, recall the solemn moment when Jesus, your Divine Son, dying on the Cross, confided us to your maternal care. You are our Mother, we desire ever to remain your devout children. Let us therefore feel the effects of your powerful intercession with Jesus Christ. Make your name again glorious in the Shrine once renowned throughout England by your visits, favours, and many miracles.

Pray, O Holy Mother of God, for the conversion of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed.

O Blessed Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us.

For more information about the Slipper Chapel, see: http://www.walsingham.org.uk/romancatholic/the-slipper-chapel-shrine/

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4 Responses to Walsingham: Slipper Chapel

  1. JessicaHof says:

    Thank you for this kathleen. I didn’t have time to visit the Slipper Chapel yesterday, although I have been there before. You are certainly right about the Anglican Shrine and Marian devotion – it was wonderful to be somewhere where the love of Our Lady is palpable. A most marvellous place, and proof that Henry VIII’s Taleban did not win in the end 🙂


  2. Gertrude says:

    Walsingham is indeed a spiritual place and the RC National Shrine is exemplified by its simplicity. The Holy House has actually been archaeologically excavated, and stood in the grounds of the Priory (another casualty of the Reformation) now in ruins. Most of our pilgrimages rightly end there with Benediction, and I was privileged earlier this year to have gone to Walsingham with a group of Benedictine Oblates and one of our priests, and to have ‘tagged’ on to the Diocese of Birmingham who were making their annual pilgrimage and gathered in the Priory grounds for Benediction.
    Whilst I found the Anglican Shrine ‘over-powering’ I suppose credit should be given to the Rev. Hope-Paton, the Anglican vicar who almost single handedly re- established Walsingham as a pilgrim centre for Our Blessed Lady in the 19th century – perhaps (and I speculate) as an amend for the destruction of the Protestant Reformation and its many excesses, the original statue having been desecrated and taken to London to be burnt during the Penal times.May God have mercy on their souls.


  3. kathleen says:

    Thank you Jessica.
    Your own post on your blog about Walsingham was really lovely….. and very informative too.


  4. JessicaHof says:

    Thank you, Kathleen. I am writing up my trip in a few posts over the next couple of days. A very powerful sense of the holiness of that special place remains with me.


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