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Bishop pilgrimage across Suffolk visits school and water mill




Two bishops who walked across Suffolk were delighted to meet with schoolchildren who wanted to learn about a modern-day pilgrimage and visit a water mill on their pilgrimage.

Pupils at Walsham-le-Willows Primary School quizzed the Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, and his colleague the Rt Revd Dr Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich.

They were keen to hear about the bishops’ 90-mile walk in ten days from Southwold to Stowmarket.

Bishops Mike Harrison and Martin Seeley joining pupils for assembly at Walsham-le-Willows CEVC Primary School. Photo: Keith Mindham Photography
Bishops Mike Harrison and Martin Seeley joining pupils for assembly at Walsham-le-Willows CEVC Primary School. Photo: Keith Mindham Photography

Bishop Martin said: ‘‘The children were delighted to engage with us. They wanted to understand where we had been, who we had met and find out more about the places we had visited.

‘‘They wanted to know where we stayed each night and whether we were sleeping in a tent.”

Bishop Mike added: ‘‘Of course they were also keen to know what food and drink we had taken to sustain us during the pilgrimage – and whether we had any blisters.

‘‘This was our third annual Lent pilgrimage and by now we have become used to being on our feet most of the day. But we were delighted to stop for a while in the school and meet staff and lead an assembly with the pupils.’’

Bishops Mike Harrison and Martin Seeley joining pupils for assembly at Walsham-le-Willows CEVC Primary School. Photo Keith Mindham Photography
Bishops Mike Harrison and Martin Seeley joining pupils for assembly at Walsham-le-Willows CEVC Primary School. Photo Keith Mindham Photography

Schoolchildren from Norton Primary School were due to take the pilgrimage one step further by walking alongside the two bishops on a footpath to St George’s Church, Stowlangtoft today.

Around140 pupils are due to give the bishops a morale boost by joining them and then gather inside the 14th century church for an insight into the evolution of Christianity through the ages.

The Revd Katherine Valentine, Rural Dean of Ixworth, had visited the school previously to introduce the children to the idea of pilgrims seeking out places of significance and she said the pupils were thrilled to meet the bishops.

The bishops also held a School Mass in the church with Eye Primary School and the parish at St Peter and St Paul, Eye.

The diversity of business and community enterprises in the north of the diocese is a constant source of interest for Bishop Martin and Bishop Mike.

They were all fired up when they were invited to have a go at a potter’s wheel and throw a pot at local pottery during their Lent pilgrimage, and enjoyed sampling the local wines at Wyken vineyard.

They also spent time with inspirational programmes for people with learning disabilities at Thornham Walks and Street Forge workshops.

Bishop Martin said: ‘‘It was perhaps inevitable that the uncertainty conjured up by Brexit was a recurring topic of conversation when we met with Suffolk’s entrepreneurs making a living.

‘‘But we were always struck by the passion and commitment with which people are using their gifts and skills to provide high quality services for people in Suffolk and further afield.

‘‘Once again, this year’s pilgrimage unearthed real talent in the countryside."

Potter Rob Wheeler who gave the Bishops a lesson in making a bowl on a potters wheel during their pilgrimage through Walsham-le-Willows. Photo Keith Mindham Photography
Potter Rob Wheeler who gave the Bishops a lesson in making a bowl on a potters wheel during their pilgrimage through Walsham-le-Willows. Photo Keith Mindham Photography

The two bishops also called in at the county’s oldest working water mill on the penultimate day of their lent pilgrimage.

They stopped off at Pakenham Water Mill to meet volunteers who open the mill for the public to visit.

Wheat is still ground into flour, just as it has been on the site for 1,000 years, and is for sale at the mill and local shops.

The Bishops were shown the working mill and congratulated those involved for coming third in BBC Countryfile Magazine’s best British landmark category in their recent awards.

It’s the third year they have walked a different part of the Diocese and both said they were delighted to be at the mill.

Bishop Martin said: “We cover a different part of the Diocese each year and to be in special places like this is wonderful."

Bishop Mike described the pilgrimage as “having meetings with nature walks” as both enjoyed a blustery look at the mill pond and wildlife areas.

Bishops Mike Harrison and Martin Seeley with Brian Aket, a volunteer at the mill. Photo by: Nicki Dixon
Bishops Mike Harrison and Martin Seeley with Brian Aket, a volunteer at the mill. Photo by: Nicki Dixon


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