These pilgrims whistles are often referred to as ‘Walsingham Whistles.’ In fact the 15th century play ’Mankind’ has the line ‘ I kan pype in a Walsynghan wystyll’. It is thought that these items would have been used by pilgrims to add to the noise that they inevitably wished to make as they wended their way. Indeed the fact that pilgrimage was often very much a noisy and rowdy occasion is born out by the words of William Thorpe, a Lollard preacher, who in 1407 spoke disparagingly of pilgrims as: ‘what with the noise of their singing, and with the sound of their piping and with the jangling of their Canterbury bells, and with the barking out of dogs after them, they make more noise than if the king came there way”. Fittingly, the legend on the side of this particular whistle reads ‘be meri’ (merry).
Original found in Salisbury.