The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


On 13th April we met at St George’s for, bags packed in the hold of our Lucketts coach we set off to Leigh Park. West Leigh, Havant and Rowlands Castle now we had forty pilgrims on board. Trevor our driver then gave us the usual safety instructions, Trevor was our driver last year so he knew what a noisy lot we could be. Father Mike then said prayers for our safe journey. Mid-morning we stopped at a service station for a coffee break then on to Ely for lunch at the Lamb Hotel which had been pre-ordered which was just as well as the place was very busy.

Leaving Ely for a very pleasant journey we arrived at Walsingham about, having off loaded the cases we then paid our First Visit to the Holy House using the new manual, then to be given our room numbers so off we go to unpack except me, on arriving at my room to my horror I had left my coat on the coach and guess what the keys for my case were in a pocket. So very embarrassed I went to the office, Trevor was located and very kindly sorted me out and teased me every time we met. we had our Pilgrims Mass in the Barn Chapel, after this there was time to have a drink of choice in the Norton Room before supper. One thing you must remember is to wear your Pilgrims Badge which was given to us on the coach, no badge no food! I have to say I have never seen anyone turned away… Compline is at 9.15, after this most of us end up in The Bull for drinks. One has to be back by 12 midnight. Coffee is available until 11pm in the Norton Room.

Saturday after breakfast there was Stations of the Cross, the weather was fine but windy, some of the pilgrims then walk to the Shrine Church while those less agile do it the easy way by coach. There is the modern church and the chapels and a good shop for purchasing gifts etc. Best of all is the little café which sells home-made cakes and the hot chocolate drink is very good, then it is back in time to visit the Shrine Shop in the village for more gifts then it is lunch time.

In the afternoon some members of the group went on the light railway to Wells while most of us went on the trip to Felbrigg Hall near Cromer about an hour’s drive. The Hall is very isolated, there is much to see, a church which is famous for its brass, there is also a walled garden which is quite large and of interest, then there is the Hall itself, 16th century, the walls are painted the same colours they have been since the stairway was moved, a pale bluey grey, much old furniture and very ornate carved wooden doorways, fantastic embossed ceilings, much beautiful and valuable china on display. One thing the house was notorious for was the fact that it was so cold apparently visitors did not stay for very long. When the squire had electricity installed he only allowed one light and one plug for a single bar electric fire so only one light or fire could be used at a time. This is well worth another visit like 2-3 days there is so much to see.

Back to Walsingham for a Pilgrim’s meeting followed by Mass of Our lady of Walsingham, this is followed by supper then back to the church where we are given a candle in a protective carrier to stop the wind blowing out the candle. The Address was given by Bishop Lindsay. The candles are lit and the hymn begins and the procession slowly leaves the church following the beautiful Procession of Our Lady of Walsingham Statue round the gardens.

One of the bearers was Fr Timon’s son Benjamin, a great honour to be chosen, this was followed by Benediction, and a Healing service, one could be Anointed with oil or receive the Laying on of hands or both.  Priests were available to hear confessions. We then left quietly.

Then we all met for our Pilgrims get together, a time of food and drink with the fun of quizzes. Dick being the quiz master it was all good fun, I left at 10.30. So I have no idea when the fun evening finished, I hope it was not too late.

Sunday after breakfast we met in the church for the Stations of the Resurrection, stopping at the Stations in the garden, this was very moving, such an important part of the Easter event, Christ’s Resurrection. We then slowly walked to the Barn Chapel for the Eucharist.

Time for more coffee, do the final packing, last minute shopping, filling the water bottles from the Well to bring home. Time for lunch then to take our cases to the coach to be loaded ready for when we leave.

We are nearly at the end of our stay, before we leave there is the Sprinkling at the Well, where water from the well is given to drink and the water poured over the hands, in healing. After tea we have our last service, the Procession of the Holy Sacrament round the grounds and back into the church where we are all blessed and some pilgrims with special needs can ask to receive a special blessing. Bishop Lindsay congratulated Fr Mike and the servers from St George’s, saying it was wonderful to have a matching team. They did a great job which they can be proud of.

The time at Walsingham comes to an end with a short farewell to Our Lady of Walsingham, now it is time to leave, on the way back we eat, drink and be merry as we consume the food left over from the party the previous night, and a lot of us fall asleep with happiness and memories of an incredible weekend. We arrive back and say our farewells. Who forgot to put her case in the taxi, I did so we had to come back to the church for it. Trust me to do something like that.

Jennefer Higginbottom

Festival Edition 2012

St George’s News from the Pews