Walsingham first became a place of pilgrimage in 1061 when the Lady of the Manor, Richeldis de Faverches had a series of visions. In them the Virgin Mary showed her the house in Nazareth where the Annunciation took place and instructed her to build a replica in Walsingham. The site of the Holy House can now be seen in the Abbey Grounds.
This came to an end in 1538 when Henry VIII dissolved the Priory, and it was not until nearly four hundred years later, in the early the 20th century, that pilgrimage to Walsingham once again became a regular occurrence.
It was due to the efforts of Fr Alfred Hope Pattern, who was appointed Vicar of Walsingham in 1921, that in 1931 a new Holy House encased in a small pilgrimage church was dedicated. In 1938 that church was enlarged to form the Anglican Shrine that we see today.
One of the aims of the Anglo-Catholic movement was to introduce more colour into the generally drab Church of England churches, still suffering from the protestant zeal of Cromwellʼs iconoclasts.
At Walsingham they certainly succeeded in trumps, in fact some might say the whole thing is a bit garish. It is interesting to contrast the shrine with nearby St Mary and All Saints Church. The latter proving that good taste, colour and religious devotion can co-exist.