The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Heritage funding awarded to Norfolk chapel

jessica knightssylvia batchelo2012 : St Seraphim’s Trust has received a stage one Heritage Lottery Fund Grant to develop plans to open as a visitor centre for people to learn about the tradition of Orthodox Christian icon painting.

St Seraphim’s Trust was established in 2005 and is based in the former Walsingham Railway Station, home to St Seraphim’s Orthodox Chapel since 1967.

The grant is being used to develop plans for a full Heritage Lottery bid in spring 2013 for funds to interpret and present to visitors the story of St Seraphim’s, a centre for traditional Orthodox Icon painting for more than 40 years, along with the building’s railway heritage (1857-1964).

St Seraphim’s Orthodox Chapel is located next to the coach park in Little Walsingham and is open daily. “Visitors are always very welcome,” said Project Manager Sylvia Batchelor. “We are very interested in finding out how visitors respond to the chapel and our heritage. This will help with the development of our plans.” 

St. Seraphim’s Trust aims to build on the long tradition of Orthodox Icon painting carried out by Father David (d 1993) and Leon Liddament (d. 2010) at the chapel for more than 40 years. Their icons were highly regarded and can be seen in churches and homes throughout the UK and worldwide. The icons of early British saints including local saints were an important part of their work

“We are delighted to have been invited to stage an exhibition of Father David and Leon Liddament’s Icons in The Hostry, Norwich Cathedral in December 2013,” said Sylvia Batchelor. “This will bring their work to a new audience and help raise the profile of our project in Walsingham.”

st seraphims chapel2The project will make the chapel and the rest of the building, including the surviving station platform and the large garden behind the platform, fully accessible to all visitors. Plans include a display area for Father David and Leon Liddament’s Icons, and workshop spaces where courses and events will be held to enable people to learn about iconography and its role in the Orthodox Christian faith.

Work has already begun to develop a community garden, a natural space to complement the spirituality of the chapel and provide a calming and natural reflective environment for use by pilgrims and the local community. A viewing hut has been established from which visitors can see all the religious sites in Walsingham.

“We particularly need a key volunteer to help manage the garden and volunteers to work on St Seraphim’s archives,” added Sylvia Batchelor. 

The story of the Orthodox faith in Walsingham began in the 1930s when emigré Russian priests visited the Anglican Shrine. A Pan-Orthodox Chapel was established at the Anglican Shrine in 1945. But the growth of interest in the Orthodox faith led to the development of St Seraphim’s Chapel in the old railway station in 1967. Father David, the priest in charge led a Lay Brotherhood of St Seraphim and created the Icon workshop. Further growth in the Orthodox community saw the opening of the Holy Church of the Transfiguration in Great Walsingham in 1988.

For more information about St Seraphim’s Trust and the chapel see www.iconpainter.org.uk, or contact Sylvia Batchelor Project Manager, t. 01328 820610, email sylvia@iconpainter.org.uk and Jessica Knights Project Administrator, email jessica@iconpainter.org.uk

Pictured above: Jessica Knights and Sylvia Batchelor outside St Seraphim's Orthdox Church.

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