Saturday, September 05, 2015

Walsingham 2015: Second Day

The chapel at Oxburgh Hall.
Mass celebrated by Fr John Cahill, with Fr Michael Rowe as deacon and Br Rosario of the Marian
Franciscans at Gosport as subdeacon.
The second morning of the pilgrimage presents a special challenge. We get up from our tents (some of ladies sleep under cover on the floor of the nearby school), packed our bedding and other heavy bags into the luggage van and walk an hour without breakfast to Mass at Oxburgh Hall. Breakfast follows High Mass in the lovely chapel there, where many of the pilgrims visited the brilliant, and never discovered, priest-hole, hidden under a loo.


The house itself is stunning, just from the outside.


We had breakfast in the village hall nearby. Our breakfasts now include not just bread and cereal, but porridge and boiled eggs. This is positively decadent by the standards of the Chartres Pilgrimage, but it is much appreciated.

As with Chartres, only bread rolls and water (and apples at one point) are provided on the route, but as we are looking after 80 or so people rather than 8,000, it is possible to have more than instant soup in the evening. Soup does make sense, but it is substantial, made from fresh ingredients each day, and accompanied by bread and cheese, and even humous.

Now here's an amazing fact. Our catering team, of four people, as part of the preparation for this evening soup, made stock, either chicken stock or vegetable stock, every day. This is why the soups actually tasted of something. They used absolutely vast pans: I've never seen anything like them before, except on the Chartres Pilgrimage.

For the vegtable soup on Friday evening they cooked 20 carrots, 20 onions, 80 celery sticks, 60 courgettes, and no fewer than 80 cloves of garlic - not to mention a lot of other ingredients. Thursday's Cock-a-leekie soup included 24 of the eponymnous leeks, as many sticks of celery, and 72 chicken thighs. The final evening's Scotch Broth needed 8 kg (17 1/2 lb) of lamb.

That's why these pilgrims look so happy...


Our second day of good weather began to move into the category of the positively hot. This is always more of a problem for walkers than the cold and wet in the English summer: more people drop out because of the heat than because it is raining.


One little task of Saturday afternoon is praying for the dead. We do this overlooking the ruins of an Augustinian Priory, at West Acre, which is directly on our route. We sang the De profundis.

Friars and others at our lunch stop.
We do a lot of singing on the pilgrimage. We say fifteen decades of the Rosary each day, mostly sung, in Latin, French (one of the Chartres Pilgrimage tunes), and the English tune introduced to us a few years ago by Fr Bede Rowe. We sing lots of hymns, a few secular songs, and a good number of chant litanies, hymns, and sequences: Parce Domine, O filii et filliae, Miserere et parce, and others. If these aren't familiar to you, then an important part of the Church's patrimony of music isn't familiar to you. Each of our chapters has, as well as a Chapter leader and a Chaplain, a Cantor, equipped with a megaphone, to lead the singing, and all the chant, and all the less familiar hymns, are printed in the Pilgrim's Handbook with clear, re-set music. A lot of these chants have refrains, so it is really easy to join is if a cantor is doing the verses. It is all a lot of fun, well suited to maintaining the pace of the walking, and we still have plenty of time for meditations from our priests, private prayer, and conversation.

At the end of Saturday we marched on to our final camping site, Great Massingham, a distinct improvement, both in terms of the route and the facilities, on previous years.

Scotch broth for dinner in Great Massingham village hall.
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  1. Hay!! Thanks for the splendid review. The pans are so huge that my 8 year old daughter (seen with the very blond hair in the photo of the pan) can lie curled up in one quite comfortably! 😛

  2. Nice to read up on. Great works