Item 2008/7548 - Fr Clare to Bishop: Description of proposed new Church; Plans attached; Cost estimate £1050

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GB ARCHON 2913 PA30-01-0-1-2008/7548


Fr Clare to Bishop: Description of proposed new Church; Plans attached; Cost estimate £1050


  • 8-6-1935 (Creation)

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2 page letter; typescript

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Biographical history

1895: born
1918: ordained
1922 - 1936: PP at March
1963: died

Wallace George Clare was born in Ipswich and brought up in Suffolk. Educated at Lowestoft College, St Wilfred’s College, and Paris. At seven, he decided to become a clergyman; by nine the curly headed schoolboy nicknamed “Bubbles” had begun his life-long interest in books and genealogy which led to his founding the Irish Genealogical Research Society in1936. At eleven, a visit to an RC church brought him to Roman Catholicism. Father Clare was sent to Paris for training and appointed a Curate at Northampton Cathedral until 1922 when he became the Parish Priest at March, Cambridgeshire.
There, he was a continual surprise to his Bishop. In 1923 Fr Clare wrote of the good work on the presbytery; “1st I heard about a Presbytery being started!” replied the Bishop. Fr Clare’s artistic and theatrical friendships enabled him to convince London artistes to perform concerts in rural March for church funds. The Bishop curtailed these since, whilst well received, they turned very little profit. In 1924 he asks the Bishop if he may erect shrine in Church in honour of St Wendreda. His supporting historical research includes a photograph of an Indulgence granted to parish church by Cardinal Wolsey in 1526; could the Bishop renew it in favour of March church of Our Lady & St Peter?
Soon after, Fr Clare’s presbytery became a small school for “difficult boys”. However, someone sent the Bishop the school’s prospectus, which he queried. Fr Clare replied that it was not truly a prospectus since it was not a school, in the strictest sense; taking only abnormal boys for supervision and treatment. The prospectus was a “camouflage to save the feelings of parents of mental boys whose friends might find out that they are in March”. Pupils were medically examined and once a cure is effected the boys can be taught by qualified teacher. Fr Clare apologised for his thoughtlessness and was “always anxious to make right any wrong”. A contemporary of [Dame] Nellie Melba wrote to say his son was much improved, indeed unrecognisable, following Fr Clare’s schooling.
Fr Clare maintained his interest in theological and ecclesiastical affairs and did much research and writing; he amassed a large collection of books on every aspect of religion and the Church. He published books and articles which included “The Historic Dress of the English Schoolboy”, “A Young Irishman’s Diary”, the diary of his grandfather, John Keegan of Moate, “A Simple Guide to Irish Genealogy”. His life work was the Convert Rolls (uncompleted) making biographical and genealogical notes to the lists of Converts to the Protestant Faith.
Fr Clare dreaded the March winters, which in 1962 exacerbated his bronchitis and he retired, going to the Franciscan Sisters at Maryland, Milford on Sea, and died in April 1963.

Archival history

Recorded on RCDEAA system on 13-2-2008

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Northampton Diocese Archives

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Scope and content

Enclosed plan & Frost's sketch of 1st portion of new church for March. Describes proposal in detail & reason for various aspects. New sacristy also needed. He would like to dedicate the Church to Our Lady of Walsingham as theirs was the first in the diocese to install a statue of Our Lady according to original model. If Bishop approves plan, he will send specifications. He encloses cheque for cathedraticum from Deanery clergy

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XNP6 file 1&2 #161

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264mm x 205mm

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