Showing posts from 2010

Candle Mass at Walsingham

Love it or loath it, there’s more to Walsingham than the shrine! Never mind summer’s  high church high jinks! I recommend Walsingham’s wet winter woods in February.
The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, some call it the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary or Candlemas falls on 2nd. Forty days after Jesus’ birth Mary, Joseph had taken their new baby on pilgrimage. At the temple in Jerusalem the infant Christ was recognised by the elderly Simeon and Anna who spoke to his parents about their child and his destiny.

One misty February morning found me on pilgrimage in Walsingham.  I had parked at the Slipper Chapel,  then walked the Holy Mile to the Abbey - avoiding the traffic on the main road by following the new path along the old railway line.

Paying my entrance fee, I passed into the Abbey grounds and made straight to the pack-horse bridge.  Wow! Snowdrops, Candlemas Bells some call them, bejewelled with dew, bowed their heads beneath the skeletal spindles of bare branched t…

Fursey Pilgrimage 2010

2nd October was the annual Fursey Pilgrimage at Burgh Castle

Lovely day! Well done everyone!

Fursey celebration at St Matthews, Norwich on 15th Jan

More info ......

Flixton in Loving Land

In 1630 the Rev’d Brisley preached at the rededication of St. Andrew’s, Flixton.  He called his sermon,  'The Glory of the LatterTemple greater than the Former'
When published in London in 1631 it carried a sub-title 'A Sermon preached at the Consecration or Restitution of the Church of Flixton, in Lovingland, Suffolk, being sometimes the MotherChurch of the East Angles.'.  The Glory has passed!  All that is left are ivy clad ruins
I was following my St. Felix obsession. Was the farm, the ton,  that bore his name – Flixton - once part of  the saint’s estates?  Had Felix’s feet walked these paths? and had he and his fellow monks worshipped on this hill?
Other visitors had noted Roman tiles in the crumbling walls. Were the tiles from Burgh Castle, the near by  Roman fort,  where Felix’s fellow missionary St. Fursey had his base?  Now there’s a thought!  . Fursey  and Felix neighbours on what in the 7th century was an island at the mouth of the great estuary.   Lothingl…


There was a settlement at Haddiscoe  long before fishermen began to dry their nets on the sandbanks at the mouth of the estuary -  sandbanks that were to become Great Yarmouth!

Parking my car beneath the church, with its 11th century Anglo-Norman round tower, I walked in the Beccles direction, on a footpath that crossed a bridge over the Landspring Beck . The first right turn took me, via quiet lanes, past Haddiscoe Hall and, at a junction a mile on, another right turn took me to the bottom of the valley.  A final right turn put me on an indistinct path along a ditch and field edge leading back to the St. Mary’s church.  The path was rich with flowers.   Butterflies flitted from flower to flower and dragonflies darted about my head as I made my way through waist high grass and masses of Lady’s Bedstraw!
As I got near the church a Buzzard flew out of the trees and the path plunged into a wooded glade known Devil’s Hole.   This is where the beck rises from a spring. It is frequented by …

Broads Brand


North Elmham

I’d come to North Elmham pursuing a mystery. Did the Bishops of Elmham from Bedwinus in the 7th century to Herfast in the 11th have their cathedral in Norfolk or  Suffolk?  North or South Elmham?

I’d followed a circular walk I’d found in the  Norfolk Health Heritage and Conservations Walks  leaflet (You can get hold of one from Norfolk County Council or on-line at .)  It took me through parkland,  along quiet lanes and ended up at the parish church  (Well worth a visit in its own right!)

My final destination was indicated by a brown tourist sign. Uncompromisingly it asserts “Saxon Cathedral”! But when you get to the ruins and read English Heritage’s helpful interpretation boards there’s no certainty at all.  What you see are earthworks and  ruins of a castle built by Henry Despencer,  the fighting Bishop of Norwich. He was famous for putting down the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381. A man not without enemies, Henry had obviously felt the need of protecti…

South Elmham

Within their own earthworks the stubbs of flint walls delineate where once a proud building stood.  Not the Saxon Minster promised by the Ordinance Survey map but a rather later build, like churches in Great Yarmouth and Kings Lynn and the cathedral in Norwich, the work of Herbert de Losinga. But Herbert built where a church had stood from the earliest days of  Christianity in East Anglia.  Beneath ancient Hornbeams the all pervading green is relieved by flowers -  patches of Red Campion and  the white filigree of Queen Ann’s Lace. And from tree top stalls Blackbirds sing antiphonally where once choirs sung their Creators praise.

This is South Elmham. I had walked to the glade on way marked paths from a car park at South Elmham Hall where I’d called into the cafĂ© to pick up a leaflet.
The  parishes of the Ferding of Elmham form a block of land which might have been given to St. Felix by King Sigbert in the 7th Century.
“Of Elmham”  Bishops were designated from the time of Beaduwine …

The Primrose Path ?!

I   walked down the lane at the height of spring enjoying the sun . The air was as heady as chilled champagne and  I was following my nose. There was a new whiff of pig on the air.  I set off to investigate passing  down Horstead’s Primrose Lane but for all my searching I couldn’t find even one!  Stitchwort and early Bluebells? Yes.  Primroses? No.  Yet there must have been lots of them once upon a time. Did thieves plunder them ?   There are lots of wild Primroses in local gardens, but my guess is that  a change of maintenance of the verges will have played  largest part.  In days gone by they made as much hay as they could.  Now the verges are cut and left.  Un-raked grass soon becomes rank and humpy and  can strangle plants. Primroses are especially vulnerable.

Saddened by the loss of Primroses I found two places where rubbish had been dumped by the roadside.  Doesn’t fly tipping  make you cross!?  We talk about dirty pigs.  What about dirty humans? I eventually found the porkers …


Reducing your carbon foot print?  Travel by bus! The X1 starts at Lowestoft and passes through Yarmouth, Norwich and Kings Lynn. At Peterborough it connects with the number 37 (Spalding)  which will take you to Crowland and its famous abbey church.

It was a boat that brought St. Guthlac to Crowland on St. Batholomew’s Day 699 AD!  On what was then a marshy island he established a hermitage in the ruins of a plundered grave mound. Struggling with demons, marsh ague and strict asceticism Guthlac followed in the footsteps of St. Anthony of Egypt and the desert fathers.  As his reputation for holiness grew many found their way through the watery Fenland wilderness to seek his counsel. Among them was the future King Ethelbald  of Mercia.

After Guthlac’s death in 714 AD  Ethelbald founded an abbey on the site.  The abbey endured through several re-foundings and re-buildings until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. Thereafter the cloisters and monastic buildings were abandoned and…

St.James, Bawsey

Streams of cars speed down Kings Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Way everyday. High above the traffic a ruined church has paid witness for a thousand years and more. For decades it has been drawing me like a magnet. So on a sunny Spring day I finally found my way up the hill.

Church Farm, Bawsey is managed under a Higher Level Stewardship scheme and provides parking and permissive footpaths.  You can approach the farm from the Gayton Road turning left into Church Lane just beyond the crematorium. Maps showing the paths and parking are available online on the Natural England website ( They are also displayed at strategic places around the farm . 

I had intended to walk from Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Roydon Common, via the Grimston Warren reserve but that was closed as the work there continues. They are converting it from commercial forestry back to its original lowland heath. I followed a path to the edge of the warren through recently restored pasture that supports a …

A Walk on the Fringe : Come and Join us

On 17th April join Journeying for a Walk on the Fringe from St. Andrew Eaton to St. Walstan's Well and Shrine at Bawburgh.

I travelled the path a couple of years ago here's my notes:

You might describe it as, “a walk on the edge .” From start to finish the sound of traffic and distant sirens provided background noise. I chose to begin my walk from the car park next to St. Mary’s, Earlham, by the bridge on the B1108. You could choose to make the walk longer by starting by the old bridge at Eaton or even at Marston Lane.

The path follows a crystal clear River Wensum as it skirts the south of Norwich’s built environment. It goes through Eaton, by the University, then past Earlham and Bowthorpe housing estates.

I was on my way to pay respects to St.Walstan at his shrine and holy well at Bawburgh. Born to wealth and royalty, the saint lived a life of prayer and poverty, choosing to support himself a farm worker. (You could describe him as a Franciscan before St. Francis!) He ha…

Spring a Springing!?

A ruined church, winter bare trees in the deserted churchyard and the jackdaws’ cry. All are reminders of mortality - a fitting backdrop for the Lenten fast!  The reused bricks and conglomerate stone incorporated by the 11th century the builders recall “the glories that were Rome”. Once this building housed a miraculous wonder-working  image of St. Theobald to which pilgrims flocked. Often when I come here to pray , there’s just me and some friendly horses. That’s fine for someone who seeks solitude but do these deserted and neglected ruins point towards the Church of England future?”

Ah! I have left out the most amazing thing that one day totally transformed a dismal scene! “A host of ….daffodils !”  

On a March day back in 2009,  like William Wordsworth’s Lake District flowers, these were abundant and “danced and fluttered in the breeze.”  I think I know what the poet meant when he wrote:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward e…