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HISTORY OF THE RC PARISH of PENZANCE.

CANON BERNARD WADE

1894-1934

Bernard Wade was born in Wolverhampton on 13th March 1855, but was accepted as a student for the Plymouth Diocese in 1868. He attended Mr. Clarke's School in Plymouth before starting his seminary training at Oscott College near Birmingham. In 1874 he was sent to the English College in Rome, where he was ordained priest on 11th July 1880. In his early years of priesthood, he worked in Exeter, Tiverton and then the Cathedral.

When Canon Courtenay was summoned to the Cathedral, Father Bernard Wade took his place in Penzance on 23rd September 1894. He quickly came to know his new mission. He too was appointed Missionary Rector in 1898; and, on the death of Canon Cassey of Falmouth, he was chosen to be Dean of Cornwall and installed as a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter

Much was done at this time to keep the church and other church property in good repair. But there was one problem that surfaced - the font. In 1899, in a report of his Visitation Bishop Graham had written: "A stable font in a safer place is required". In 1903 he harps on it again: "the patched up Font without railing still showed up. The Bishop publicly announced that he condemned it altogether, but a holy water font, and hoped the Congregation would have a creditable Font by next Visitation towards which be promised a subscription of 2". Canon Wade saw to it!

One unexpected visitor to Penzance was the great Irishman, Archbishop Mannix of Melbourne, Australia. He had sailed home to Ireland during the "troubled times"; but his presence at this delicate time was not welcomed by the British Government - they sent a destroyer to intercept his ship. He was landed at Penzance, said Mass in the church and was taken by train to London.

It was during Canon Wade's long 40 years in Penzance that the parish grew and consolidated its position. During the First World War and in the years afterwards many new families moved in and their descendants are still in the parish today.

One memory of him is that he would try to demonstrate his sporting prowess by attempting to hit tennis balls over the great height of the church from the presbytery garden.

In his later years in the parish Canon Wade's health began to break down seriously; he remained in Penzance until 23rd February 1935 when he retired to a Nursing Home in Clifton, where he died on 17th July 1936.

created 29th October 2004 - last  revised 3rd March, 2010 v1.01 -