- East Sussex
The Walsingham Chapel
Please see below a new document giving you details on visiting our Walsingham Chapel and what you will see when you visit our beautiful church.
Please also read the information after the document to gain further knowledge on the origins of St Mary's church and the Walsingham Chapel
The Walsingham Chapel is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of St. Mary’s Church.
Father Wagner had this Lady Chapel built at the same time as the church, and deliberately made the measurements to coincide with the mediaeval Holy House at Walsingham, built in response to a vision granted to the Lady Richeldis in the time of King Edward the Confessor, this Holy House being of the same measurements as that of the Holy Home at Nazareth. The ancient shrine of Walsingham was destroyed in the 16th century, so this little Buxted Lady Chapel became the first restored Holy House and precursor of the revival of devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham in England.
Father Wagner, one of the great leaders of the Catholic Revival in our Church, naturally had a great devotion to Mary and was certainly a pioneer in reviving her title of Our Lady of Walsingham, even though he may not have realised it at the time. It seems that, during the early years in the history of St. Mary's Church, the significance of the little chapel was not realised; but God was working through persons concerned, through Father Wagner onwards, to forge a remarkable chain of events.
Father Wagner was succeeded at St. Paul's, Brighton by Father J.E. Halliwell in 1902. To him came Father Charles Edward Roe as Curate over fourteen years, during which time Father Roe became acquainted with a young layman in Brighton, Alfred Hope Patten. In 1917, Father Roe was appointed Parish Priest of St. Mary's Buxted, where he took a great interest in the unique Lady Chapel. When in 1919 Alfred Hope Patten, then a Priest of five years standing, came to assist him at Buxted for a year, Father Roe told Father Patten that in the Lady Chapel at St Mary's a Screen was placed where it was in order to make that part of the Chapel beyond to the east window correspond with the dimensions of the Holy House of Our Lady at Walsingham, destroyed in the reign of Henry VIII. This aroused Father Patten's interest in the once-famous Shrine at Walsingham. Then came a remarkable sequence of events. Father Roe's brother, Canon Gordon Roe, had recently been appointed Rural Dean of Walsingham, and wrote to his brother regarding the appointment to the vacant Living of Walsingham asking if he could suggest a suitable priest. Father Roe at once suggested Father Patten, and he was accepted and appointed, with the result that, through the Providence of God, he restored Our Lady to Walsingham once more. There is not the space here to record all that this resolute and devoted priest accomplished in setting up the image of the Mother and Child, so familiar to us now, in rebuilding the Holy House within a fine Pilgrimage church, etc., but the influence of Buxted St. Mary's upon all this is clear for all to see and, when Father Roe died, a memorial brass was set in the floor of the Shrine Church at Walsingham, just in front of the Master's Stall. This has an engraving of Father Roe in Mass vestments, and bears the inscription: ‘Of your charity, pray for the soul of CHARLES EDWARD ROE, M.A., Member of S.S.C. and S.K.C.M., Priest Associate of the Holy House, Parish Priest of St. Mary's, Buxted 1917-1935. Died 4th August 1940. Jesu mercy. Mary help.’'
Meanwhile, St. Mary's Buxted revived the Walsingham devotion in Sussex. On 18th December 1932, a year after the opening of the Shrine church at Walsingham, an image of Our Lady of Walsingham, carved in Oberammergau and identical to the restored image at Walsingham, was dedicated and enthroned above the Lady Altar. Gradually, pilgrims began to come to Buxted, but, after Father Roe, difficulties were experienced in maintaining the devotion on the same scale. A succession of faithful priests saw that Our Lady at Buxted was not forgotten, and pilgrimages, which had become spasmodic, have now been revived.
The Walsingham Chapel is enclosed on two sides by an oak screen, and on the other two sides, oak panelling covers the wall to a height of some six feet. The Altar, with silver Crucifix and candlesticks is set on a step (predella) and the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the Tabernacle set in the wall above.
The East window behind the Walsingham statue shows the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel announcing God's plan for the Incarnation to Blessed Mary. On the south side of the little sanctuary is a window depicting the Nativity, Christ in the manger at Bethlehem watched over by His Mother. This is in memory of Father Mackreth. Two other windows illuminate the chapel on the South side - the one depicting Christ the Good Shepherd, in memory of Father John Bagot de la Bere, the other showing St. Elizabeth with the child John the Baptist, in memory of Margaret Bagot de la Bere.