Colin Woolgrove encourages pilgrimage to another Holy House


The Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, in the heart of the village of Buxted, East Sussex was erected and endowed by Father A.D.Wagner.  The church (Grade II listed) was consecrated in 1887. The small church, built in the traditional style, is of flint construction, in line with the Wagner churches of Brighton, and is the only church built by him in the Sussex countryside.

St Mary’s, designed to promote the catholic faith, had, at one time, a community of religious (the Community of the Blessed Virgin Mary) attached to the parish. The Lady Chapel (or Walsingham Chapel) was built to the dimensions of the medieval Holy House at Walsingham in Norfolk. In turn these dimensions are as those of the Holy House at Nazareth. The ancient shrine of Walsingham was destroyed in the sixteenth century, so the Walsingham Chapel at St Mary’s became the first restored Holy House and precursor of the revival of devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham in England. Father Hope Patten, once curate of St Mary’s and then parish priest at Walsingham was instrumental in rebuilding the current shrine. It is widely recognised that, without St Mary’s, Buxted there would probably be no shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham, either Anglican or Roman Catholic.

St Mary’s has been a centre of pilgrimage for almost one hundred years. The following is a quote from the pamphlet ‘Nazareth in Sussex’, first published in 1934:


May Nazareth in Sussex, standing as a witness to the doctrine

of the Incarnation in the Southern Counties, become known

and loved, and draw many to visit this Shrine who, for one reason or another, are but seldom able to ‘take the Walsingham Way’.


The church is open daily for individual pilgrims. However, if you or your parish would like to arrange a special pilgrimage to St Mary’s please contact: 

Colin Woolgrove – Tel: 01825 830076 or email: 

If you wish to celebrate Mass and are unable to bring your own priest, please let us know in advance. There is an outside space for picnics, when weather permits, and a church hall that can be used with adequate notice.  

Are you interested in the wider history of St Mary’s? Either from the perspective of our Anglo-Catholic background, or the more colourful side that includes scandal, personal attacks against a priest and his flock, armed robbery and murder!  If you would like to learn more, we will be only too happy to give a talk on this fascinating history.        


Colin Woolgrove assists with pilgrimages to Nazareth in Sussex.