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!

Reception in Parliament in support of the proposed Pugin and St Augustine education, research and visitor Centre

70 guests attended a reception in Parliament hosted by Laura Sandys MP in support of the proposed Pugin and St Augustine education, research and visitor centre in Ramsgate.

Guests, heard speeches from Fr. Marcus Holden, Rector of St Augustine’s church, Ramsgate; local MP Laura Sandys; Paul Hudson, chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East; ITV newscaster Alastair Stewart; and Rosemary Hill, historian and author of the award winning biography of Pugin “God’s Architect”.

Also attending, was his grace, the Most Rev Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark (Archbishop Peter is also President of Friends of St Augustine’s Patrons and  has supported the project since it commenced).

Those present were thanked for their support and generosity over the last three years, but were urged help gain new support for the proposed centre in the hope that it will be completed by the end of 2016.

Fr. Marcus Holden, Chairman of Friends of St Augustine’s said “I am delighted with the progress we have made in the last year and by the ever increasing numbers of people visiting St Augustine’s and offering their support in so many ways.”

He further added “ Over the coming years we want St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate to become a religious and heritage centre for St Augustine of England and for the Catholic architect, Pugin.  The support we have received from the Heritage Lottery Fund and from other Trusts and supporters will, hopefully now, and over the coming months, make our project a reality. The centre will be there for the Ramsgate community, for schools, and for the many Pilgrims from home and abroad who come to visit St Augustine’s shrine.  We believe this centre celebrating the landing of St Augustine and his work in evangelising England to Christianity, and that of the architect Pugin who dedicated his church to St Augustine, will add to the area’s religious significance and cultural attractions.”

Other guests from among the many organisations and supporters at the reception included: Dr Anna Keay, Chief Executive of the Landmark Trust; Lady Alexandra Wedgwood, President of the Pugin Society; Lord Pendry a former pupil at St Augustine’s Abbey School, Robert Pugin Purcell, great great Grandson of Augustus Pugin; and Mary Gibbins, Chairman of Friends of Kent Churches.

Anyone wishing to help this project, and would like to  get involved should contact: Fr. Marcus Holden, Pugin’s church of St Augustine Project , 72 Hereson Road, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 7DS.  Tel 01843 592071 or emailramsgateandminster@gmail.com

 

Photos: Marie Muscat-King

Speakers Paul Hudson (HLF), Alastair Stewart, Rosemary Hill with Sophie Andreae

Speakers Paul Hudson (HLF), Alastair Stewart, Rosemary Hill with Sophie Andreae

Paul Sharrock, Project Leader with Archbishop Peter Smith, President of Friends of St Augustine's

Paul Sharrock, Project Leader with Archbishop Peter Smith, President of Friends of St Augustine’s

Fr Marcus Holden and Alastair Stewart

Fr Marcus Holden and Alastair Stewart

Supporter, Faustine Smiley with Laura Sandys MP and Fr Marcus Holden

Supporter, Faustine Smiley with Laura Sandys MP and Fr Marcus Holden

 

Pugin’s church of St Augustine in Ramsgate wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

heritage lottery fund logoThe Catholic church of St Augustine of England, Ramsgate, has received initial support* from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an £800,000 project to house The Pugin and St Augustine education, research and visitor centre. The project aims increase knowledge and accessibility for people of all ages around two themes: the Victorian architect, Augustus Welby  Northmore  Pugin, and St Augustine of England, founder of the Christian church in Southern England.

Development funding of £82,100 has also been awarded to help the Catholic church of St Augustine of England to progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. The support from HLF was described by Fr. Marcus Holden, Parish Priest and Rector of St Augustine’s as “significant and very welcome.”

Two years ago, a local campaign was launched by the Parish to save St Augustine’s church which has resulted in grants and donations enabling the commencement of repairs and restoration work to this Gothic style mid-19th century church.  It was built by AWN Pugin, who designed one of the UK’s most iconic buildings, the Westminster Clock Tower, otherwise known as ‘Big Ben’ and now renamed the Elizabeth Tower after the diamond jubilee of Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II.

Pugin and his family are buried in the church. He dedicated the church to St Augustine of England, who landed nearby in 597AD.  There are many great Pugin designs on display at the church.  One of the most notable is the baptismal font which was displayed at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851.  Before his death in 1852, Pugin donated his church to the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Southwark, who still own the church to this day.

The project aims to provide facilities for visitors, schools and the local community to learn about Pugin and Augustine with teaching, displays and physical access through the principal areas of this seminal building.

With an aim of attracting visitors to Ramsgate, the centre will bring together a wide range of users and contributors.  Largely staffed by volunteers with the support of the Pugin Society and the local community, the project will explain the place of St Augustine and the influence of the designs of Pugin.  The project will preserve, bring together and honour the memories and traditions of the community and open the site to the wider public with new opportunities.

Fr. Marcus Holden, Parish Priest and Rector of St Augustine’s said “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us support.  Just over two and half years ago there was a danger that this famous church would have to close.  Now we are seeing ever increasing numbers of visitors and schools coming to see this magnificent church and to learn about Pugin and St Augustine of England.  This grant will help us to transform these facilities, providing a place of learning and research for the benefit of the local community and for those from further afield.  Our aim is for Pugin’s legacy to be enjoyed by generations to come”

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the South East, said: “We’re extremely pleased to give initial support to this project, which aims to bring alive the story of this wonderful Church and its connections to Pugin for future generations. We shall watch the developing plans with interest.”

Alastair Stewart, journalist, newscaster and a patron of Friends of Pugin’s church of St Augustine said “”It is very good news that the Heritage Lottery Fund are supporting this important work. This is a great project and I am pleased to have come down to visit Pugin’s church of St Augustine in Ramsgate and support the work that is going on in the community to restore this magnificent church to its former glory.

It is personally important to me too, as I regularly visited this wonderful church while I was at St Augustine’s Abbey School next door.  Pugin’s church is an important part of England’s Heritage.  The proposed education, research and visitor centre will open up the church for all so that it can be enjoyed by Schools, the local community and visitors to Ramsgate as a church of outstanding beauty and to learn more about the work of Pugin and St Augustine.”

Catriona Blaker of the Pugin Society and Ramsgate resident said

“We are thrilled that St Augustine’s Education, Research and Visitor Centre Project is going ahead. If ever there was a church from which so many people could learn so much about so many fascinating subjects, encompassing religious beliefs, architecture, design, symbolism, and general history, this is the one.

The wonderful church of St Augustine, designed by the great architect Augustus Welby Pugin, famously known for his work at the Palace of Westminster, has in the past been somewhat of a sleeping beauty. Now, this project will make a huge number of people aware of its unique quality and significance and can only enhance the already steadily rising profile of the church.”

Laura Sandys MP for South Thanet said

“I am thrilled that St Augustine’s has won backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund and was delighted to support its application. This is excellent news for Ramsgate and testament to the hard work and efforts of the local community and volunteers. I would like to warmly congratulate all those involved.”

“The proposed Education, Research and Visitor Centre at St Augustine’s will provide educational facilities for schools in the area to learn about the world famous architect Pugin, and the historic landing of Augustine who brought Christianity to Southern England.

“Ramsgate has a very vibrant heritage and St Augustine’s plays a hugely important part in this. The visitor centre will facilitate our extraordinary history being enjoyed by people for years to come and will assist in attracting more visitors to the area.

“I am delighted to give the project my full backing and will be holding a Parliamentary reception in support of the project later this year.”

And on behalf of the Pugin family, Robert Pugin Purcell, great great grandson of AWN Pugin said:

“On behalf of the Pugin family, I wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for the wonderful news that St Augustine’s application has been successful. The development of an education, research and visitor centre builds on the existing restoration work being undertaken in a unique Church. It also brings this Church, of such architectural significance, into community life and involvement – and is therefore a project which directly meets the vision Augustus Pugin had for Ramsgate and the Thanet region.”

Lord Cormack, President of the Parliamentary all-party Arts and Heritage Group said:

“Everyone who claims that there is genius in Pugin will be delighted by this news”

The Announcement was made at St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate and Rector of the church, Fr. Marcus Holden together with members of the Parish project committee and many project volunteers were joined by:

Cllr Kim Gibson, Mayor of Ramsgate

Alastair Stewart OBE, Journalist and Newscaster – and a Patron of the Friends of Pugin’s church of St Augustine, Ramsgate.

Anya Whitehead , Heritage Lottery Fund

Catriona Blaker of the Pugin Society

Sarah Wren, Kent County Council

Nick Dermott, Thanet District Council

Jocelyn McCarthy, the Ramsgate Society

Fr. Marcus Holden also introduced Paul Sharrock of Thomas Ford and Partners who has been appointed to oversee the project.

After the announcement a reception was held in Pugin’s Cartoon Room in the Grange next door and was attended by the many guests.

Notes to editors.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.6bn across the UK.  www.hlf.org.uk

*A first round pass means the project meets the HLF criteria for funding and HLF believes the project has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money.  The application was in competition with other supportable projects, so a first-round pass is an endorsement of outline proposals.  Having been awarded a first-round pass, the project now has up to two years to submit a fully developed proposal to compete for a firm award. On occasion, an applicant with a first – round pass will also be awarded development funding towards the development of their scheme.

St Augustine’s church Ramsgate

The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Southwark own St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate and since 2010 it is has been run by the Parish of Ramsgate and Minster.  With the church in need of major repairs, there was a fear that it would close.

The Parish, led by Fr. Marcus Holden, set up a Friends of St Augustine’s group in 2011 with its aim to restore the church to its former glory so that it can be enjoyed by future generations.  The Friends of St Augustine’s has attracted support from across the Ramsgate community and much further afield including the Pugin Society, Kent County Council, Thanet District Council, schools in Thanet, the University of Kent,  Members of both Houses of Parliament, historians, Arts and crafts, heritage organisations, writers and others involved in the media.

Significant support has been received from English Heritage, as well as support from the National Churches Trust, Friends of Kent Churches and many other Trusts and supporters who have either donated money, or have given their time and skills to helping the project.

While much work has been carried out to restore the exterior of the church, the Parish decided that it had to address the issue of increasing numbers of visitors and the need to ensure that there were adequate facilities.  In March 2013 an appeal was launched to provide funds for a much needed education, research and visitor centre, and an application was made to HLF.  The parish are looking to raise over £800,000 for this project.

Mayor of Ramsgate, Councillor Kim Gibson_ Alastair Stewart_ and the Mayor’s escort, Kelly Roberts. Credits: Marie Muscat-King

Anya Whitehead of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Rev Marcus Holden of St Augustine’s church and Alastair Stewart on 11th November 2013. Credits: Marie Muscat-King

Alastair Stewart OBE at St Augustine's on 11th November 2013

Alastair Stewart OBE at St Augustine’s on 11th November 2013. Credits: Marie Muscat-King

Many welcome proposed Pugin and St Augustine education, research and visitor centre

Following the announcement of Support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a Pugin and St Augustine education, research and visitor centre at St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate, many have welcomed the news.  Here are some of the messages St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate have received.

Catriona Blaker of the Pugin Society and Ramsgate resident said

“We are thrilled that St Augustine’s Education, Research and Visitor Centre Project is going ahead. If ever there was a church from which so many people could learn so much about so many fascinating subjects, encompassing religious beliefs, architecture, design, symbolism, and general history, this is the one.

The wonderful church of St Augustine, designed by the great architect Augustus Welby Pugin, famously known for his work at the Palace of Westminster, has in the past been somewhat of a sleeping beauty. Now, this project will make a huge number of people aware of its unique quality and significance and can only enhance the already steadily rising profile of the church.”

Laura Sandys MP for South Thanet said

“I am thrilled that St Augustine’s has won backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund and was delighted to support its application. This is excellent news for Ramsgate and testament to the hard work and efforts of the local community and volunteers. I would like to warmly congratulate all those involved.”

“The proposed Education, Research and Visitor Centre at St Augustine’s will provide educational facilities for schools in the area to learn about the world famous architect Pugin, and the historic landing of Augustine who brought Christianity to Southern England.

“Ramsgate has a very vibrant heritage and St Augustine’s plays a hugely important part in this. The visitor centre will facilitate our extraordinary history being enjoyed by people for years to come and will assist in attracting more visitors to the area.

“I am delighted to give the project my full backing and will be holding a Parliamentary reception in support of the project later this year.”

On behalf of the Pugin family, Robert Pugin Purcell, great great grandson of AWN Pugin said:

“On behalf of the Pugin family, I wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for the wonderful news that St Augustine’s application has been successful. The development of an education, research and visitor centre builds on the existing restoration work being undertaken in a unique Church. It also brings this Church, of such architectural significance, into community life and involvement – and is therefore a project which directly meets the vision Augustus Pugin had for Ramsgate and the Thanet region.”

Lord Cormack, President of the Parliamentary all-party Arts and Heritage Group said:

“Everyone who claims that there is genius in Pugin will be delighted by this news”