Music, Mince pies, and Mulled wine: CONCERT ON SATURDAY – Veni Emmanuel

A festival of Advent carols, candlelit readings, Gregorian Chant, soaring polyphony, gothic arches, mulled wine and mince pies is on offer at St Augustine’s this weekend.

Artists-in-Residence, The Victoria Consort, will sing a concert of seasonal music in St Augustine’s, Ramsgate, on 13th December at 7.30pm

Veni Emmanuel poster december 2014Entitled Veni Emmanuel, this concert focusses on the lead-up to Christmas with music based on the “O Antiphons” – particular words from the Old Testament that point towards the birth of Jesus at Christmas.

The music comes from the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. Readings will intersperse the musical pieces. A perfect end in such a building, the concert will end Morten Lauridsen’s soaring O Magnum Mysterium.

Mulled wine and mince pies, and jollity, will follow the concert in the Cartoon Room of The Grange, next to the church.

Tickets are £10, available on the door or in advance from


“Veni Emmanuel”

Saturday 13th December


St Augustine’s Church, St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate, CT11 9PA

Tickets £10

Parliament donates original Pugin Tiles to St Augustine’s

Original Pugin-designed tiles from the floor of the Houses of Parliament were presented as a gift to St Augustine’s church at a Parliamentary reception for supporters of the proposed Pugin & St Augustine Education, Research and Visitor Centre for St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate.

Many supporters, volunteers, and community leaders joined MPs, Peers, the Archbishop of Southwark, and national supporters and donors. Lord (Tom) Pendry, President of Ramsgate Football Club, was present and has supported St Augustine’s in its work, having been a regular attender at the church in his youth.

Presenting the Tiles Catriona Blaker (Pugin Society), Jocelyn McCarthy (Ramsgate Society), Fr Marcus Holden receives a tile from Laura Sandys MP

Presenting the Tiles
Catriona Blaker (Pugin Society), Jocelyn McCarthy (Ramsgate Society), Fr Marcus Holden receives a tile from Laura Sandys MP

Supporters were also joined by national newscaster, Alastair Stewart, who is a Patron of the Friends of St Augustine’s church and supports many of its events; he spent his secondary school years at St Augustine’s College and regularly used the church.

Described as “Pugin on wheels,” the State Rooms of the Speaker’s House at the House of Commons were the venue for reception, hosted by Laura Sandys MP. Pugin designed the interiors of the Houses of Parliament – much work being done in Ramsgate – and the spectacular venue was most appropriate for the Ramsgate gathering.

The Pugin Society Catriona Blaker, Penny Perrott, Lady Alexandra Wedgewood

The Pugin Society
Catriona Blaker, Penny Perrott, Lady Alexandra Wedgewood

Volunteers enjoying the reception

Volunteers enjoying the reception

Speeches thanking Volunteers and supporters were given by Alastair Stewart, Laura Sandys MP, Robert Pugin Purcell (the great great grandson of Augustus Welby Pugin), and Fr Marcus Holden (Rector of St Augustine’s church) who has led the project. Paul Hudson, the Chair of the South East Committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, who are supporting the proposed centre and have so far funded preparation of the final bid for delivering the project, also spoke about HLF’s support of the project.

Fr Marcus Holden with Paul Hudson, Chair HLF South East

Fr Marcus Holden with Paul Hudson, Chair HLF South East

Guests from the Ramsgate-based Pugin Society were present along with the Ramsgate Society, Friends of Kent churches, English Heritage, and the National Churches Trust, who have all supported St Augustine’s in the last three years.


Laura Sandys MP said, “Ramsgate has come to Parliament, and now Parliament has come to Ramsgate. The tiles – which come from the floors of the Houses of Parliament – will really add to the new Education, Research, and Visitor Centre at St Augustine’s. This project needs every support, and I am so pleased to have welcomed so many supporters to Parliament in aid of our Ramsgate project.”

Dominic Bevan of The Victoria Consort

Dominic Bevan of The Victoria Consort

Thomas Neal, Director of Music at St Augustine's

Thomas Neal, Director of Music at St Augustine’s

Catriona Blaker of the Pugin Society said, “All supporters of the proposed Pugin and St Augustine Education, Research and Visitor Centre, and in particular representatives of the Pugin Society, were most impressed to be at the State Rooms of the Speaker’s House, House of Commons. What more illustrious or fitting venue could there possibly be for such an event? This was the final rallying call before the second round funding submission next March to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Pugin Society is a hundred per cent behind this exciting project, which would so greatly advance knowledge of Pugin and St Augustine, and increase awareness of the remarkable heritage of the Isle of Thanet. Particular thanks should be given to the strong support of Thanet South MP Laura Sandys and Patron of the Friends of St Augustine, Alistair Stewart.”

Laura Sandys MP, Archbishop Peter Smith, Fr Marcus Holden, Alastair Stewart

Laura Sandys MP, Archbishop Peter Smith, Fr Marcus Holden, Alastair Stewart

Fr Marcus Holden, Rector of St Augustine’s, said,“Further support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and our Friends will make St Augustine’s a great place for the community, for tourists, for the whole of Ramsgate. I thank everyone who has already supported us in so many ways, and encourage everyone to come and visit this magnificent church. I would particularly like to thank all the volunteers from Ramsgate and elsewhere in Thanet who have given their time an expertise to get us this far. It has been a tremendous effort and we are making tremendous progress.”

He added “Our project is creating an experience of Pugin and St Augustine for everyone.”

Project Management Board members, Nigel Warner and Derek Benjamin, with Catherine Lloyd of Canterbury Cathedral

Project Management Board members, Nigel Warner and Derek Benjamin, with Catherine Lloyd of Canterbury Cathedral


Alastair Stewart, Laura Sandys MP, Lord Northbourne, Jacob Rees Mogg MP

Alastair Stewart, Laura Sandys MP, Lord Northbourne, Jacob Rees Mogg MP

Since opening its doors every day for the first time in April this year, St Augustine’s has welcomed over 7,000 visitors and is on target to hit 10,000 visitors this year. It is currently fundraising to match-fund a grant bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to create an Education, Research, and Visitor Centre. The new Centre will be an attraction for visitors, scholars, and facility for the local community.


To join or to enquire about the project please e-mail, call 01843 592071, or visit

St A State Rooms Westminster 2014 (127 of 199)

Donation from Parliament

The donated tiles were part of the floor of St Stephen’s Hall and were removed as part of Parliament’s encaustic tile conservation programme, a seven year project to restore the original patterns designed for the floors of the Houses of Parliament. Where possible, tiles are being restored and reinstated.

Encaustic tiles are also known as Minton tiles, named for Herbert Minton who collaborated with Pugin on the Palace of Westminster – Minton tiles are used throughout the public areas of the Houses of Parliament. The original tiles were made using a Medieval technique that was rediscovered by Herbert Minton in the early 1800s. It was a handmade process, from mixing the clay and making the moulds to pressing the tiles and adding the coloured clay – the pattern is baked into the tile, rather than added later as a glaze.

Old Augustinians return to St Augustine’s for Remembrance Service

On Tuesday 11th November St Augustine’s Church, Ramsgate, held a Service of Remembrance, beginning at 10.45am. The Old Boys of St Augustine’s School who died in the First World War were particularly commemorated.

Pupils from the Ursuline College attended, with the Headteacher Tanya Utton, and two of them read the Roll of Honour. Many of the 38 names on the OAs’ Roll of Honour came from a photograph of the now-destroyed school war memorial.

This was the first time for many years that the Old Augustinians have had a remembrance service. The School was based in Ramsgate for much of its existence, and St Augustine’s Church was used for many of the school’s important occasions. The School moved to Westgate in 1971 and closed in 1995. Many St Augustine’s boys moved to the Ursuline College, which is also in Westgate.

Two minutes’ silence was observed at 11am. Two wreaths were laid at the Pugin Chantry chapel.

Michael Thunder, a Royal Flying Corps pilot who was killed in 1916, was the grandson of Augustus Pugin, who built St Augustine’s Church. Thunder is buried in the churchyard.

Andrew Sharp, Secretary of the Old Augustinians, said, “It is very important that we should remember the sacrifice these former pupils at St Augustine’s gave for their country. In this centenary year since the start of the First World War, not only are they to be remembered by their families and communities, but by the former pupils of their schools too.

“We very much hope that as many former pupils at St Augustine’s living in and around Thanet will be able to attend this Remembrance service as well as any descendants of the families of those on the Old Augustinians’ Roll of Honour.”

John Coverdale, St. Augustine’s Centre Manager, said, “We are very pleased that the Old Augustinians will be returning in this centenary year of the First World War to honour their fallen Old Boys. It is very appropriate that they come here on this day, and we hope it will become an annual tradition.”

Afterwards the congregation enjoyed refreshments in the Cartoon Room at The Grange next door.

Lead Kindly Light: new DVD on Cardinal Newman

Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Nicholas Schofield have launched a new DVD about the life and work of Blessed John Henry Newman. It is named after Blessed John Henry’s famous poem and hymn, “Lead Kindly Light”.

The DVD documentary, which lasts about an hour, was launched at St Augustine’s sister church, St Ethelbert’s, across town on 18th October.

Pugin and Cardinal Newman had an interesting relationship, taking very different views on church architecture, but both keen to see the reunion of the Catholic Church and the Church of England.

The trailer of the DVD and a review can be seen here:

Ramsgate’s Australian connections: Pugin in the Antipodes by Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett, Director of the Pugin Foundation

Australia is a little-known part of Pugin’s history, but St Augustine’s was very pleased to host the Right Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett, Bishop of Lismore, New South Wales – a Director of the Pugin Foundation – on 15th October for his talk Pugin in the Antipodes.

Pugin’s Australian legacy is mostly in Tasmania, after Pugin’s close friend William Willson was made Bishop of Hobart. Since Bishop Willson was appointed before the restoration of the English hierarchy, he was the first person to be consecrated bishop of his own see in British territory since the Reformation: Pugin really was at the heart of revival.

Bishop Polding, of Sydney, was another important commissioner of Pugin’s work – and the cause of a rare Pugin organ case. Through him, Pugin extended and substantially rebuilt St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, including housing a large organ case that Pugin designed. Very few organ cases are known to have been designed by Pugin, but sadly St Mary’s burnt down in 1868 and that part of Pugin’s legacy was lost.

The works of Pugin in Australia were just as diverse as those found in the UK. He made buildings, copes, chasubles, other vestments, bowls, jugs, chalices, ciboria, stained glass, gravestones, fonts, statues, monstrances, pyxes, crosses, crucifixes – the whole range of things a church could need. Astonishingly many of these items were put away and forgotten about by the end of the nineteenth century. The episcopal regalia that Pugin designed for Bishop Willson was mostly last seen in the early twentieth century. That such beautiful objects were cast aside seems so strange to our eyes!

Bishop Willson had known Pugin in England, both of them having built St Barnabas church in Nottingham. This is where Bishop Willson is buried, and his tomb supports a metal cross that Pugin gave him in 1835. Willson left many possessions in Australia when he returned to the UK, but Pugin’s cross remained with him all his life.

Such was Willson’s admiration for Pugin’s work that in May 1847 Willson was given a chalice by the pope, but Willson had it melted down and remade by Pugin to a more gothic design. He also had Pugin create a new base for a 14th century bowl in his possession, and when his clergy wanted to make a gift to their bishop they turned to Pugin for a design.

Scale models of churches were made by Pugin and sent out to Australia, as Pugin could not travel there himself. He made three principle designs – small, medium, and large – and made particular changes for individual buildings. Much of this work was done in 1842, even though numerous churches to Pugin’s designs were not built until some years after Pugin’s death.

Of particular note are the Pugin gravestones. These are distinctive “head and shoulder” designs and are found all over Tasmania. A visiting American even had one copied for a family member’s grave in New Orleans.

Bishop Jarrett also showed us photos of numerous Pugin buildings that survive in Australia. St John’s in Richmond, Tasmania, is Australia’s oldest in-use Catholic church and is a Pugin building. Pugin’s legacy continued with the likes of William Wardell and Henry Hunter – great followers of Pugin – continuing to build gothic buildings throughout Australia into the later nineteenth century.

Pugin wrote how good he thought it that “solemn chancels and cross-crowned spires will arise on the shores of the Pacific” – just as his vision was for the shores of England at Ramsgate.

Rescuing Pugin: PAUL ATTERBURY

BBC Antiques Roadshow expert gave a lecture at St Augustine’s on 12th September to mark the 20th anniversary of the V&A’s exhibition Pugin: A Gothic Passion. The lecture was a joint event between St Augustine’s and the Pugin Society.

Paul Atterbury was the curator of the exhibition, which included numerous items from St Augustine’s.

The audience – which substantially filled St Augustine’s – were led on two journeys: one seeing Pugin’s development of his ideas, and another about the process of creating an exhibition. The legacy of the exhibition is substantial, going from the restoration of The Grange, to the revival of Pugin’s reputation and fame, and to the saving of St Augustine’s itself.

With great humour Paul described the display of screens at the exhibition. The idea was to create a Gothic interior using original Pugin artefacts – as Pugin’s great phrase has it, “the real thing” is what matters. A rood screen from the disused church in West Tofts, Norfolk, was chosen, and the church authorities were incredibly relaxed about its removal – not an attitude one would expect today! Screens were such an integral part of Pugin’s designs, and St Augustine’s has particularly fine examples.

An exhibition must have an agenda, and Paul Atterbury explained his: that Pugin had been treated very badly and needed to be rehabilitated. People had forgotten almost everything pre-Morris, but, as every architect of note at the time said, “I owe it all to Pugin.” Pugin needed to be rescued. There was a more immediate agenda, too, in taking The Grange out of the huge risk it was in. Paul Atterbury described the process by which it ended up in danger of being entirely lost – a sad situation for Pugin’s own house. It was three years after this exhibition, in 1997, that the Landmark Trust bought it and began the process of restoring it. St Augustine’s, Pugin’s own church, is now undergoing the same saving process.

Designing an exhibition at the V&A is a very freeing and wonderful experience, the audience was told. With fond memories, Paul told of his being able to properly research Pugin and his works, with great freedom and great support. For two or three years Paul lived and breathed Pugin, visiting every Pugin site that he could find, making notes, and taking photographs. It culminated in the three-month exhibition, the title of which caused some consternation. Who would visit something called “Pugin” – who knew of Pugin? “A Gothic Passion,” on the other hand, sounded more exciting, and so the title was born.

The V&A were very pleased with the popularity of the exhibition.

Pugin worked out how to float a spire over a crossing – as he designed as St Augustine’s. This marked a new period in Pugin’s designs, and led him to even greater Gothic creations. He travelled astonishingly, visiting his projects, and even today such travel would be difficult. No other architect designed six cathedrals and forty churches. Yet he did not shirk from using modern technology, so long as the effect was the same. In many ways, he was the founder of the Arts and Crafts movement. He was the first great industrial designer: Pugin and Brunel can rightly be compared. This was the complexity and astonishing achievement of the man that Paul showed in his exhibition 20 years ago.

The exhibition spawned books, saving of buildings, and the Pugin Society itself. The Pugin Society – who helped to put on this lecture – was formed in 1994 after the Gothic Passion exhibition.

There were two follow-up exhibitions: one in New York and one in Ramsgate. Now Pugin’s great site on Ramsgate’s Westcliff is being saved in its entirety, and St Augustine’s will be permanently open to the public with a full restoration, and an Education, Research, and Visitor Centre. As Paul Atterbury said at the end of his lecture, “This is Pugin’s town … Ramsgate has come to life … Art is the great rescuer.”


St Augustine’s and the Pugin Society are very pleased to have been able to host this commemorative lecture, and to celebrate twenty years of a true revival of Pugin and growth in appreciation of his legacy.

En avant!