On the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, K.V. Turley, the Register’s UK correspondent, takes readers on a very personal tour of the EWTN GB studios in the heart of the village.Celebrate Our Lady of Walsingham with a Tour of Britain’s EWTN Studio| National Catholic Register
“When England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England.”
This was the prophecy made by Pope Leo XIII in 1893 when speaking to the English bishops about the consecration of England to Mary, the Mother of God. The Pope was recalling England’s ancient title, “Our Lady’s Dowry,” and the medieval Marian shrine linked to it at Walsingham.
In December 2015, EWTN-Great Britain (GB) CEO Andy Pollock decided to build a television studio at the current Marian shrine at Walsingham. Inspired by the spirit of the same medieval vision that brought about the building of the shrine in the first place, this decision, in the years hence, may be seen as contributing to the realization of Pope Leo’s prophecy — if in ways that he could never have imagined.
In August 2017, Michael Warsaw, the chairman of the board and CEO of EWTN Global Catholic Network, opened EWTN’s first British studio at Walsingham.
EWTN GB’s decision to build a studio at the English Marian shrine situated at Walsingham was a bold move. The little village in North Norfolk is not on any railway line; it is not linked by any major road network, and it is a good three hours by car from London. Known as “England’s Nazareth,” Walsingham is as equally remote from the centers of secular power as Nazareth was in the time of Mary. Pollock was undeterred, however. He saw the Marian shrine as a center of evangelization for England and beyond. “We — EWTN GB — consider ourselves under the patronage of Our Lady and carrying out her wishes,” he said.
Walsingham village is an ancient one and the history of some of its buildings, though several are in ruins, is well attested in various documents. At the center of the medieval shrine was the Augustinian priory. However, there was an equally busy friary run by the Franciscan Grey Friars. There were also a number of hostels for pilgrims, one of them being the premises now occupied by EWTN, a building known in medieval times as The White Horse. After the Protestant Reformation, the friaries and much else in Walsingham were destroyed or repurposed. By the 20th century The White Horse was a busy restaurant. Today, that building houses the EWTN studio known as Annunciation House.
The Annunciation is the shrine’s chief Marian focus and is held by Tradition to have taken place at the Holy House of Mary’s parents, Saints Joachim and Anne, a replica of which was requested by Our Lady of Richeldis in the 11th century.
Less well known is that the Annunciation was also integral to the work of EWTN foundress, the late Mother Angelica. Her full religious name denotes not just devotion to the angels, but also included the epithet: “of the Annunciation.”
For years, at the express wish of Mother Angelica, there hung in the American studios of EWTN a picture of Our Lady of Walsingham, looking forward, perhaps, to a moment in the unseen future when EWTN would open its first studio there. The medieval name for the studio building — The White Horse — also has a curious providence for it is in the Book of Revelation that a “white horse” brings the Eternal Word of God.