The Shrine of our lady of Walsingham was established in 1061, when according to tradition Richeldis de Faverches prayed that she might undertake special work in honour of our lady. In answer to her prayer the Virgin Mary lead her spirit to Nazareth, showed her the house where the annunciation occurred and asked her to build a replica in Walsingham to serve as a perpetual memorial of the annunciation.
The holy house was built in Walsingham and around 1130 a community of Augustinian canons took charge of the foundation and Walsingham became one of the most notable Shrines in medieval Europe. All the kings of England from Henry III (1226) to Henry VIII (1513) came to Walsingham on pilgrimage. In 1538 the reformation caused the priory property to be handed over to the kings commissioners and the famous statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was taken to London and burnt. Nothing remains today of the original shrine, but its sight is marked on the lawn in “The Abbey Grounds” in the village.
Another Shrine of our lady of Walsingham was built in the church of annunciation in Kings Lyn and from there the first public pilgrimage to Walsingham, since the reformation, came on the 20th August 1897. In 1922 a new vicar, the Rev. Alfred Hope Patten, established a Shrine in the Parish Church of St. Mary. This was transferred to the new Anglican shrine in 1931.
Towards the end of the 19th Century, public pilgrimages to Walsingham were revived. The Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches now have established new shrines to Our Lady, so that in the 20th Century, Walsingham has become again a great centre of pilgrimage.
Places of historic interest and beauty in and around Walsingham include Walsingham Abbey Grounds, the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, The Slipper Chapel, the Methodist Chapel, the Chapel of Saint Seraphim, the Shire Hall (court house) museum, the Wells-Walsingham light railway and various impressive timber framed buildings and fine Georgian facades.
The village of Little Walsingham hosts a collection of quaint gift shops, tea rooms, restaurants and the Bull Inn overlooks the common place, which is the village square, with its old pump house, that in times past provided the village with drinking water.