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Village tour guides celebrate 20 years

PUBLISHED: 15:17 04 June 2008 | UPDATED: 10:20 07 July 2010

Walsingham may be among the country's top ten most sacred places in the country and a place of pilgrimage since the mid-11th century, but there's more to the historic north Norfolk village than religion.

Walsingham may be among the country's top ten most sacred places in the country and a place of pilgrimage since the mid-11th century, but there's more to the historic north Norfolk village than religion.

The village is steeped in history and there is no better way to discover all the fascinating facts about Walsingham and its development over the centuries than a leisurely stroll through the village on a guided tour.

The tours were started by Scilla Landale and are this year celebrating their 20th anniversary. During those two decades, around 23,500 people from all over the world have been on them.

The standard tour lasts for two hours and covers most aspects of the village's history.

The present guides - there are five of them including Mrs Landale - talk with enthusiasm of their involvement and the pleasure of passing on the history of the village to visitors.

They all agree that no tour group is ever the same and that a guide can never know enough. “When you are a guide of an historic place like Walsingham you are always learning something new,” said Carolyn Wright.

Surprisingly, about 95pc of people who take the tour are tourists and not pilgrims.

“Sometimes when pilgrims visiting the two shrines - there are both Anglican and Roman Catholic - take a tour, they often come into the Abbey, just off the High Street, and are surprised that the ruins are there,” said Mrs Landale.

The Walsingham guides were founded by Mrs Landale, who at the time was a mother-of-two young children looking for something to “stimulate the grey matter”.

Before launching the guides, she completed a Blue Badge Guide course at King's Lynn. Now she is inviting members of the Blue Badge Guides at Lynn to celebrate the 20th anniversary with a tea party at the Shrine refectory on Saturday.

The first tour was on June 1, 1988, and Mrs Landale wrote Walk Around and Discover Walsingham, first published in 1992.

Former village schoolmaster the late Gerald Stocking joined Mrs Landale as a village guide in 1988, before retiring in 1999. He died last year.

Tours take place in April and October on Wednesdays at 11am, and from May to September on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 11am. Prices are £5 for adults, £4.50 for

senior citizens and £2.50 for children aged eight to 16.

For more information contact Mrs Landale on 01328 820250, via e-mail at scilla.landale@btconnect.com or visit www.walsingham.uk.com

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