Call: 0203 673 6417

The Walsingham Residential Icon Painting Retreats will resume in 2022.
Please contact Helen to be placed on the advance mailing list. (Please note future courses may differ from the previous retreat structure given below)

‘Individual tuition and group tuition was very helpful. It was nice to all work on our own choice of icons, colours etc’.
  A.O’B (Walsingham 2019)


Summary of the Walsingham Retreat

Escape to North Norfolk for a 6 day, 5 night residential icon painting retreat for Beginners and Improvers focused on Byzantine & Russian icons. The intensive painting course is specifically aimed at developing individual techniques and painting skills with freedom to be spiritually creative.

‘A non threatening, helpful and encouraging environment; well-informed and polymath tutor. Pace was just right. Process delivers what ‘it says on the tin’. The Walsingham experience adds to the course. I feel nourished by the overall experience’.
  B.H. Leicester (Walsingham 2018)

The retreat is designed and delivered by professional British iconographer and experienced teacher, Helen McIldowie-Jenkins of Elenis Icons. Click here to view Helen’s work and biography

The retreat is at based at the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, a major site of pilgrimage since the 12th century and a significant site for British Iconography. Half board accommodation is included in the price. See below for what else is included.

more info

‘An excellent course with inspirational teaching. Intensive, totally absorbing, at times challenging but always immensely enjoyable. Thank you very much.’
  Revd H.D. Saffron Walden (Walsingham 2017)

Painting Course Highlights

Distraction-free painting time; a minimum of 30 hours of your own space and peace to simply enjoy painting.

Receive individual step-by step tuition from experienced tutor in a supportive environment.

Choose your own icon project to work on, or choose from a selection of archetypal icon patterns of classic Byzantine Greek and Russian icons.

Understand more about the icons; their Orthodox context and art historical aspect.

Do your own thing! Work at your own pace and focus on developing specific elements of your practice, with guidance and encouragement.

Beginners will be able to explore traditional icon painting processes, using traditional egg tempera, genuine gold leaf on either professional quality, natural wood gessoed boards or student budget ply boards.

Those new to icon painting will be able to practice specific drawing and painting techniques to attain a sound basis for ongoing practice.

Tackle the tricky bits. The course will include trouble-shooting exercises designed to improve the quality of your work and build confidence.

Gilding will be optional and up to each participant – and will probably require an extended evening session. Materials relating to gilding (gold leaf, preparatory grounds, sizes etc) will be available at an extra cost to the painting course.

Bring your own materials – or purchase from tutor. A range of ready to use gessoed boards and pigment sets, brushes and gold leaf etc will be available to buy at prices at affordable prices.

Daily Mediation time as a group or self-guided will form part of the retreat. Services are available daily and we conclude with an Icon Blessing in the Holy House.

Walsingham Highlights

‘I could not recommend this retreat too highly, it surpassed all expectations. My very modest abilities were transformed beyond all recognition due to a certain amount of application on my part, but overwhelmingly as a result of Helen’s expert sympathetic patient leadership help and tuition not forgetting the comprehensive and painstaking preparations she had made which really paid off. The setting in the grounds of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham was inspirational, wonderful to be so close to Our Lady in the ecumenical setting which Walsingham at large provides. The necessary intensity needed in what we did was very well moderated by the relaxed and social atmosphere which pertained. I am now back home with a beautiful and sacred icon – I still wonder every time I see it – how could I have produced that? This was a most enjoyable and deeply rewarding experience.’
  P.R. Chelmsford (Walsingham 2015)

Really get away from it all! The Walsingham Retreat offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in six days of icon painting in ‘England’s Nazareth’. A ‘weirdly wonderful’ place of pilgrimage, unlike any other.

Enjoy the tranquility of the Holy House and Holy Well in the Shrine church – just next door to the Studio.

Visit the two neighboring Russian Orthodox churches and pan Orthodox chapel to see the icons and frescoes by the hands of British iconographers.

Walk the Holy Mile to the Roman Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady and its famous Slipper Chapel, where pilgrims once left their shoes to walk the final mile.

Explore the ruins in the Abbey Gardens and discover Walsingham’s significant place in English history before and after the Reformation.

Enjoy the deep peace of rural North Norfolk with its countryside walks, sweeping beeches and seaside town of Wells next the Sea close by.

Browse the quaint medieval village shops for antiques, crafts, second-hand books and pilgrim gifts.
Sample the excellent locally produced cheese, meat, beers and ciders at the local pubs and the award winning Farm Shop.

Stay in the heart of the village at the superbly organized Shrine complex; enjoy having your breakfast and evening meals cooked for you, with a café and the Studio close at hand.

Key Info

‘Even though I was a complete beginner, it was easy to stay with the process and I was thrilled with my final icon. I was particularly impressed with how you divided up time and just when I had need, you appeared!’
  T.S. Norwich (Walsingham 2016)

  • 5 nights’ Half Board (breakfast + evening meal) with single room as standard.
  • Some en suite or individual bathrooms may be available
  • 30+ hour icon painting course with individuated learning and guidance
  • Course designed to develop individual practice
  • Private Studio close to accommodation
  • Painting course suitable for Beginners and Improvers
  • Option to buy icon painting supplies
  • Small group of participants (7 max) plus tutor
  • Vegetarian, Gluten and Dairy Free diets catered for
  • Mobility: the Shrine has purpose built disabled access
  • Pre-Travel info and itinerary sent in advance

What’s included?

  • Single Room accommodation with Half Board (No single supplement)
  • Professional quality pigments
  • 30+ hour Icon Painting Course
  • Course Handouts and Resources
  • Guaranteed small group
  • Social downtime: Helen’s popular Quiz Nite and Film nite
  • Optional ‘Holy Mile’ walk to the Roman Catholic Shrine
  • Holy House Blessing of icons

What’s not included?

  • Travel to Walsingham is not included. Please see the ‘More Info’ box for travel advice/directions.
  • Lunch and refreshments are not included. There is an excellent cafe on site.
  • Icon boards, gold leaf, brushes and basic art equipment (‘a what to bring’ list is sent in advance)

How do I book?

If you are resident in the UK, Please pay a deposit of £100 GBP by one of the following methods:
(If you are from outside the UK – please email Helen – English speaking, international students are very welcome.)

Online via Paypal
Go to the ‘Prices Dates & Bookings’ tab on this website, select your trip and use the ‘Pay Now’ button.

By Bank Transfer or Cheque: Please email email hidden; JavaScript is required for bank details and the address to send cheques to, along with your contact details and confirming which retreat you would like to attend.

n.b. The balance can be paid anytime up to two months before departure

Booking Confirmation

On receipt of your deposit, confirmation of your booking will be sent to you via email (or post if you do not use email).

Insufficient Numbers & Retreat Confirmation

N.B. A minimum number of participants is required for the retreat to go ahead.
Therefore the retreat will only be confirmed two months before the start date (or earlier if numbers are met in advance).