OBITUARY : Canon Peter Penwarden

Peter Penwarden spent his retirement in a flat with a view of Salisbury Cathedral, sipping dry sherry and sharing his dry humour with friends as he delighted in the well-manicured lawn. But for 25 years he had been a parish priest in south London and for 20 he had administered the daily life of Southwark Cathedral, a building not entirely unfit to be placed in the same category as Salisbury but surrounded by traffic, offices and a market. Whether relishing beauty or working hard to create it, he was typical of the Church of England at its most attractive.

Penwarden's childhood in Devon was followed by an education in what were then strongholds of a moderate Anglo-Catholicism, Keble College, Oxford, and Lincoln Theological College. His long spells in parishes in New Eltham and South Wimbledon developed him as a pastor in the steady, central tradition of Anglicanism: he drew people to dignified worship by taking great care of it and of individuals and by thoughtful, well-phrased preaching. But his real fulfilment came when he was appointed Vice-Provost of Southwark in 1971.

He was a number two who never let anyone down - not the staff under him or the voluntary helpers or the regular congregation, and certainly neither of the two Provosts in his time. Harold Frankham had been a businessman who after ordination had transformed Luton Parish Church. Now he began a campaign to raise a million pounds to restore and extend a great church which had grown dirty and inadequate. I had been Dean of Norwich with a habit of writing. Penwarden kept a busy church going very happily under the two of us.

And he lived to be rewarded. Inch by inch, the historic fabric was cleaned and beautiful thingsadded. A restaurant, meeting places, vestries, offices, toilets, arose between the church and the river bank. Concerts and meticulously organised services for national or local bodies became regular. The consecrations of bishops held there were reckoned to be not only better but also quicker than elsewhere. The choir rose to very near the level expected in much richer cathedrals. And the heart of this life was the Eucharist - every Sunday for a gathered congregation, every weekday lunchtime for those working nearby or visiting.

Penwarden was an efficient churchman. But the Glaziers' Company enjoyed him as their chaplain. Through friendship with him the accountants in Price Waterhouse came to sing carols. People who wanted a good meal knew who would be fun to be with and people in distress knew where they could find a sensitive counsellor. He was more than a churchman. He was a much- loved priest.

Peter Herbert Penwarden, priest: born Walthamstow 10 April 1921; Curate, All Saints, New Eltham 1944-49; Vicar, All Saints, South Wimbledon 1949- 61; Vicar, Benhilton 1961-71; Vice-Provost of Southwark 1971-91; Canon Residentiary, Southwark Cathedral 1971-91; died Salisbury 25 March 1995.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried