Although the archives of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham hold no original records of the medieval priory and shrine, apart from one property deed mentioned below, Fr Patten needed to explore all that was then known of the period in order to undertake his vision of a restoration. What was available to him at that time? What work has been done since? For the purposes of this website we divide the material broadly into four sections: history, documents, archaeology and Fr Patten's own writings about the foundations. There will of course be much overlapping between them. Underpinning all is the scholarship of John Dickinson (1912-1991), pictured left, who needs no introduction to any student of medieval Walsingham. A priest and academic, Fellow and Chaplain of Pembroke College, Oxford, he published The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in 1956 (CUP). This book was almost unobtainable for many years, but its reprint in 2011 (CUP) has made it widely available again. Another distinguished scholar interested in Walsingham's medieval history was the late Professor Christopher Harper-Bill, Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia. He contributed an important paper on the foundation and later history of the medieval shrine at the Centenary Historical Conference of the Roman Catholic National Shrine in March 1998. In his Walsingham: Pilgrims and Pilgrimage (2011; 2nd edn 2019) Michael Rear surveys the whole history of Walsingham, and of the Shrine, from the pre-Christian era to the present day. There is important information about the Holy House as it was in Nazareth, as well as its copy in Walsingham. The second edition has much new information. On this website the BIBLIOGRAPHY section has links to the Walsingham extract from Edmund Waterton's Pietas Mariana Britannica (1879). It also contains a link to the Walsingham extract from Blomefield's 18th century History of Norfolk. THE PILGRIM WAY heading on the menu above leads to two modern accounts of the probable route of the 'Walsingham Way', by Fr Ibbott (1969) and Leonard Whatmore (1973). DOCUMENTS gives core medieval manuscripts, in the original Latin with English translations; ARCHAEOLOGY lists many of the excavation reports from the nineteenth century onwards, which are given in full where possible. There are papers by Doreen Agutter, summing up and assessing what has gone before, and by the late Barrie Wells, detailing his personal research on the possible location of the Priory's northern precinct wall. These, and FR PATTEN'S WRITINGS, include details of the various wells and their likely origins, still a source of debate. Fr Patten had a great interest in history and archaeology. He collected a mass of material for a history of the medieval priory in Walsingham, but he only managed to produce a sketchy Chronicle which appeared in instalments in Our Lady’s Mirror between Winter 1936 and Summer 1939. This contained in chronological sequence every reference to medieval Walsingham that he had found over the years, coupled with other events recorded in the old documents and books that had attracted his antiquarian attention. These instalments are bound up with one of the sets of Our Lady's Mirror now kept in the archives. The Chronicle series - having reached the year 1471 - ended in 1939 because of the War and was not continued thereafter. Here also are the texts of the medieval ballads, and a photograph of the sixteenth-century deed (a Priory grant of land) presented to Fr Patten by an anonymous donor [Sir William Milner] in 1932. This medieval section is compiled in parallel with the main work on the archives web site and has other publications, documents and photographs added from time to time. top of page

Medieval Walsingham:

an Archive Overview