Heritage Lottery Fund Success!

St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate has received a confirmed grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to create the Pugin and St Augustine Education, Research, and Visitor Centre, it was announced at an event at the site on Tuesday. The project aims to open up Pugin’s own St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate to tell the intertwined stories of the famous architect and designer Augustus Pugin and of St Augustine of Canterbury. The HLF will fund 74% of the project which will cost £810,000. With additional works also envisaged, the total cost will be almost £1millon.

The project creates an Education, Research, and Visitor centre, opening up for all, as never before, the two intertwined heritage stories of AWN Pugin, the architect who designed much of Parliament, and Saint Augustine, who brought Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England. Uncovering these often hidden histories of the famous Architect, who lived and is buried in Ramsgate, and the Saint, who landed there, this project brings heritage alive.

800K LOTTERY AWARD (14 of 68)

It also allows Pugin’s ‘ideal’ church to be open every day for everyone, providing new activities, and spaces with new facilities and displays to interpret Pugin’s work and St Augustine’s landing. It will restore key elements of the building to Pugin’s original vision and will open up a research area for students and scholars.

800K LOTTERY AWARD (25 of 68)

St Ethelbert’s Primary School choir sang

FOR MORE PHOTOS VISIT: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.409371609255518.1073741839.250670255125655&type=1&l=069c34c773

It aims to inspire a vast number of partners and supporters including Parliament, the Victoria and Albert Museum, local authorities, the Pugin Society, schools, Friends, and thousands of individual supporters and visitors. Its growing team of committed, skilled volunteers works to involve more local people from diverse backgrounds. This locally driven initiative aims to contribute to Thanet’s economic regeneration by attracting more visitors locally, nationally and internationally.

800K LOTTERY AWARD (38 of 68)

The church was built by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1 March 1812 – 14 September 1852). He was Britain’s foremost architect and designer of the nineteenth century. A family man whose faith, ideas and designs, changed the face of Victorian Britain and influenced the world, his legacy continues to create waves today. His most famous Gothic Revival work is the interior design of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, and the design of its clock tower, commonly referred to as ‘Big Ben’, is by Pugin. Pugin designed over 200 buildings or parts of buildings, including many churches, in England, Ireland, and Australia; his influence can be seen across America, Europe and throughout the English-speaking world.

Pugin’s designs include furniture and wallpaper – all in the Gothic style and principles that he advocated. His revolutionary reinvention of manufacturing and design techniques, along with his collaborators and friends, include progress in stonework, metalwork, stained glass, encaustic tiles, and more. All of this will be on display – in original items – at St Augustine’s.

800K LOTTERY AWARD (56 of 68)

Paul Hudson (Chair, Heritage Lottery Fund South East), Fr Marcus Holden (Rector), Alastair Stewart (Patron), John Coverdale (Centre Manager), and Andrew Sharp (External Relations)

St Augustine’s church is the ‘ideal church’ of Pugin, who constructed it with his own money and delighted in being “my own paymaster” where he could fully obey his ‘true principles of Christian architecture’. He built it between 1845 and 1852 next to his home ‘The Grange’ on the clifftop at Ramsgate. He described the church as ‘my own child’ and it was to be ‘a revival of the old Kentish churches stone & flint’, with a chantry chapel ‘that may be the burial place of my family’. The church stands as symbol of the Catholic revival of the 19th century, epitomised by Pugin’s own life and conversion to Catholicism in 1835. St Augustine’s is also an integral part of Pugin’s own medieval Gothic revival which inspired the nation at large. It was being constructed at the same time that Pugin was designing the new interiors for the Houses of Parliament and the famous clock tower ‘Big Ben’.

Pugin envisaged social reform alongside his design reforms. He contrasted the harsh nineteenth century living with the seemingly more charitable and social life of the middle ages. He aimed at constructing a better society through constructing better buildings.

Pugin moved to St Augustine’s, as he called his site in Ramsgate, in 1843 specifically because it was ‘close to the spot where blessed Austin landed’. His building of the church therefore stands as a monument to the arrival of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England recalling the landing of St Augustine in AD597. This is a seminal part of English culture as St Augustine not only brought the faith that would shape English culture, but he also brought music, art, architecture, the idea of written laws, books, and learning to England for the first time since the Romans. In many elements, English culture is rooted in St Augustine and his arrival near this site in AD597.

There is no one other place in the country where one can learn so much about Pugin than from his own church and resting place in Ramsgate. The grant will ensure that the story of Pugin, his life and works, can be seen and explored; it will allow visitors to interpret St Augustine, the saint Pugin dedicated his church to so near to where he landed in 597. The life and work of both Pugin and of St Augustine is an important part (and, in recent years, a forgotten one too) of Ramsgate’s, Kent’s, and England’s heritage which the Education, Research and Visitor Centre, with Heritage Lottery funding, will make come alive for the benefit of all.

800K LOTTERY AWARD (68 of 68)

Fr Marcus Holden, Rector of St Augustine’s church said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this grant, not only for ourselves but for Ramsgate as a whole. The Pugin and St Augustine Education, Research and Visitor Centre will allow us to bring alive the intertwined stories of Pugin and St Augustine, opening up the church to everyone, attracting community involvement, and visitors from across the UK and beyond. It is wonderful news that we are now a step closer to providing new facilities in St Augustine’s to view, learn and study about this great architect and the saint to whom he dedicated the site.

John Coverdale, Centre Manager at St Augustine’s, said, “People are so interested in the hidden histories we have here, and how good it will be to open it all up to the public. It is great to see so many people – from across the world – show such enthusiasm and support for this excellent project. We have developed links with so many people and institutions, and, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund grant that we are announcing today, St Augustine’s has a great and fascinating future.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Pugin is widely known around the world for his pioneering role in the Gothic Revival and the Palace of Westminster’s impressive interiors but his important links with Ramsgate are generally less appreciated. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this project will help to redress that balance. Through the new Education, Research and Visitor centre, the stories of this important local church and that of Pugin himself can be told properly to visitors for the first time.

SAVING A CENTURY: The Victorian Society exhibition at St Augustine’s – 1st – 31st August

SAC Ramsgate poster

St Augustine’s is this year’s south eastern destination for The Victorian Society’s travelling exhibition, Saving a Century. This charts the first fifty years of The Victorian Society and is a fascinating display.

The exhibition is FREE and will be on display every day (10am-4pm) in the cloisters of St Augustine’s, immediately at the entrance. No booking necessary.

For more information please visit: http://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/events/saving-a-century/

CONCERT: SAT 4TH JULY – Cantate Chamber Choir: An Evening of Sacred and Secular

Cantate Poster

The cloister garth at Pugin’s St Augustine’s will resound with music sung by Thanet-based choir Cantate Chamber Choir this weekend.

The concert will begin in the church, with music written for religious purposes. The concert will fit perfectly with the beautiful interior of St Augustine’s, which will be illuminated with summer light streaming through the unique stained glass windows.

After the first half, the choir will show their versatility by entertaining concert-goers with secular music. The concert will move outside (weather permitting) to the cloister garth. This garden is the enclosed centrepiece of the site and will resonate with music.

Refreshments will be served, included in the price.

The concert is at 7.30pm, on Saturday 4th July, at St Augustine’s church, St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate.

Tickets are £10. Tickets will be available on the door, or can be reserved by e-mailing office@augustineshrine.co.uk or calling 01843 592071.

Centre Manager, John Coverdale, said, “This is going to be an excellent concert. We are so fortunate to have such a lively and high-quality musical life here on Ramsgate’s Westcliff. I hope many people will come to enjoy this excellent evening.”

ST AUGUSTINE WEEK – featured on Vatican Radio

Vatican Radio covers St Augustine Week: Listen here!

A week full of events! See the programme here, or on Facebook, or below:


11.15, 13.00, 13.45, 14.15, 14.45, 16.00

Throughout the day

SPECIALIST TALKS — 1.30pm and 3.30pm


MASS: Missa Cantata (Extraordinary Form), sung by The Victoria Consort — 12 noon



***NATIONAL PILGRIMAGE*** to the Shrine of St Augustine
A full day of events, beginning with a Procession at 11am and Mass at 12 noon (Celebrant: Mgr Gordon Read, in the Extraordinary Form)


WAY OF ST AUGUSTINE – DAY 1 – new walking route
The route runs from Canterbury, through the beautiful Kent countryside, via some pretty villages and significant sites, and to Ramsgate.
Overnight stop 26th-27th May in Stourmouth, courtesy of The Churches Conservation Trust.
Group 1 sets off from Canterbury — 8.30am


Join yesterday’s group if you weren’t walking the first day!
Meet at Plucks Gutter at 10am (buses available to arrive at 9.42am)


Celebrant: The Rector, Fr Marcus Holden
Preacher: Fr Tim Finigan


Setting off from St Ethelbert’s — 10am
Pick-up St Augustine’s — 10.05am

LIGHT SUPPER in St Ethelbert’s Church Hall — 6pm

In St Ethelbert’s Church Hall


Setting off from the Granville Theatre

PILGRIMAGE AND SAINT AUGUSTINE, a lecture by Fr Marcus Holden and John Coverdale — 7pm
In St Ethelbert’s Church Hall


Setting off from Hugin Viking Ship

At Minster Abbey


MASS: Missa Cantata (Extraordinary Form), sung by The Victoria Consort — 12 noon

VESPERS AND BENEDICTION, sung by the Schola Augustini — 5pm

Holy Week and Easter Services 2015

Wednesday 1st April   Spy Wednesday

9pm       Tenebrae


Thursday 2nd April   Maundy Thursday

4.30pm   Mass of Maundy Thursday

9pm        Tenebrae


Friday 3rd April   Good Friday

11am     Stations of the Cross along Royal Esplanade, beginning at St Augustine’s, in collaboration with Divine Retreat Centre UK (based in the former monastery complex opposite St Augustine’s)

6.30pm  Good Friday Liturgy

9pm       Tenebrae


Saturday 4th April   Holy Saturday

5pm       Easter Vigil Mass


Sunday 5th April   Easter Sunday

8.30am   Mass

12 noon  Mass


New research has revealed that the renowned designer of the Houses of Parliament – Augustus Pugin (1812 – 1852) – had a private holiday home in the south of France.

Pugin's retreat in southern France

Pugin’s retreat in southern France

Pugin is well known for making rapid tours of both the United Kingdom and of parts of Europe, but it seems that he would sojourn in southern France for several weeks every year. This leisurely side of Pugin has not been appreciated until now.

In a time when travel was slow, except for the railways (which Pugin often used), his retreat some way south of the Dordogne provided seclusion unlike anywhere in England. It also allowed him the opportunity to build a complete fortified project in addition to his seminal clifftop Gothic Revival site in Ramsgate.

Pugin’s French ancestry is believed to have influenced his choice of France for his private retreat. Although he was most familiar with northern France, and his ancestors were from eastern France and Switzerland, the new research unveils his admiration for King John’s military campaigns to overthrow the Cathars and to re-establish the English crown’s dominion over parts of south-western France.

It is believed that Pugin’s generous patron, the Earl of Shrewsbury, suggested that Pugin may want to build a private residence closer to the Mediterranean as the weather would be better for Pugin’s poor health than the weather at Alton Towers in Shropshire. Pugin was a frequent visitor to Alton Towers.

Many of Pugin’s letters sent from his French retreat are dated 1st April.

Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation £25,000 Grant received, and Heritage Lottery Fund bid submitted

The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has awarded Pugin’s Church of St Augustine, Ramsgate, a grant of £25,000 toward restoration work and plans to build an Education, Research and Visitor centre inside the church.


An event was held on 2nd March at which Chris Maton, from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, presented a plaque in recognition of the grant. They are the 16th grant giving organisation to support the restoration of St Augustine’s, and over 400 people have donated money privately to the project.


The event also marked the submission of St Augustine’s bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund in support of the project.


Approximately 100 people attended the event, including local schoolchildren, supporters, members of the Friends, as well as representatives of grant giving organisations. They heard speeches in support of the project from Clive Aslet (Editor-at-Large of Country Life), Robert Pugin Purcell (of the Pugin family), and Cllr Iris Johnston (Leader of Thanet District Council). The event was hosted by Fr Marcus Holden, Rector of St Augustine’s, which is the burial place of Augustus Pugin.


Fr Marcus Holden said “This project is locally driven, but it is a project that has a national importance. The things you see here inspired the architecture of a nation, Parliament was inspired by Ramsgate.  We are very grateful for the donation from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Fund and for Lord Lloyd Webber’s personal interest and support for our project.


“It takes us one step nearer towards the church’s restoration and the setting up of a centre for Pugin inside the church.”


Robert Pugin Purcell said, “There is nowhere more suitable than Ramsgate for this project, and we hope that the Heritage Lottery Fund are able to support it.”


Cllr Iris Johnston said, “People will come from all over the world to see this amazing building,” and compared the project to the Turner Contemporary in Margate as a driver for the local area and centre of internationally-appreciated construction and art.


The site should become a World Heritage Site, said Clive Aslet, because of its importance. The site in Ramsgate is Pugin’s personal building where he exhibited, “A style, a passion, a religion, a community,” which continues to have direct influences across the English-speaking world.


The event took place the day after the 203rd anniversary of Augustus Pugin’s birth. The cost of the project to create the Education, Research, and Visitor Centre, and to restore the interior of the church to Pugin’s vision, is likely to be £800,000. The Heritage Lottery Fund are expected to make their decision on the bid public in June 2015, and funding continues to be sought.

For more photos of the event, please see our Facebook page.

CONCERT: Thames Chamber Choir offers spectacular programme – 21st March, 7.30pm

 Thames Chamber Choir

The renowned Thames Chamber Choir will sing a concert in St Augustine’s, Ramsgate, on Saturday 21st March at 7.30pm.

Making their return by popular demand after last year’s impressive performance, the Thames Chamber Choir will be singing for one night only in Ramsgate. The centrepiece will be by the English composer William Byrd, with other pieces by Rachmaninoff, Tavener, and others.

Directed by Andrew Campling and Christian Spielmann, the Thames Chamber Choir is based in east London and performs across the British Isles. They sing concerts and for church services and have 20 members.

The centrepiece of Saturday’s concert will be the musical setting Mass in Four Parts by William Byrd (1540-1623), and other pieces include works by Chesnokov, Hawley, Lauridsen, Pärt, Rachmaninoff, Sisask, and Tavener. This represents a huge range of centuries and inspirations which is sure to produce an entertaining evening.

Tickets are £10, concessions £7.50. Tickets available on the door or in advance from 01843 850829.

Centre Manager, John Coverdale, said, “We are really looking forward to this concert, especially after the high standard of the Thames Chamber Choir’s visit last year. St Augustine’s is becoming a place for many groups to make music, and we very much enjoy welcoming the musicians who come to perform here and the people who come to listen and watch them.”


St Augustine’s was overflowing with people attending a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Burke on Monday 9th March. The church was full beyond capacity and many people had to stand in the cloisters.

The visit marks St Augustine’s increasing international reputation as a key site to visit in Britain. The visit of a cardinal from Rome – and such a prominent cardinal – is a great compliment and acknowledgement of the importance of this site and this building. The expanding of St Augustine’s audience is a very significant demonstration of the number of communities St Augustine’s is reaching.

The well-known American cardinal – an internationally-famous figure – praised the ‘nobility and beauty’ of England’s Christian culture on his visit to Augustus Pugin’s personal church in Ramsgate during the Mass.

Afterwards a 3rd-century skull was reinstated in the Digby Chantry Chapel on the site. The skull and teeth are relics of St Benignus, brought to Ramsgate by the famous Victorian writer Kenelm Digby. St Benignus was a boy-martyr in the third century; the bones come from the Cemetery of Priscilla in Rome. The relics were originally placed in this chapel on 25th June 1859.

The ancient skull has been conserved by Michael Whitebread. The skull has been damaged in the past – possibly including at the moment of death – and has previously been repaired unsuitably. The previous material had absorbed moisture which had led to damage of the bone, so this has been replaced with modern safe materials. Previously the skull rested on its base which led to pressure on fragile parts of the skull; it now has a foam support on the inside of the skull so that the exterior of the relic can be seen and the skull has a more upright position.

Struck by Pugin’s architecture, Cardinal Burke said, “I cannot fail to note the example of the Catholic architect Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, architect of this beautiful church which is also the place of his burial. Augustus Pugin was attracted to the truth of the Catholic faith through its reflection in the beauty of the great Church architecture of the Middle Ages.”

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, of which Cardinal Burke was made Patron last year, was in attendance. The Grand Prior of England, His Excellency Fra’ Ian Scott, was present along with eight other Knights and two Dames of the Order of Malta. Also in attendance was the Abbot of Farnborough, His Lordship Dom Cuthbert Brogan; the Prior and Superior of St Philip’s Priory, Chelmsford, the Very Reverend Fr Hugh Allan; and more than 20 other clergy.

Music was provided by The Victoria Consort and members of the parish choir, directed by Thomas Neal. The Victoria Consort are artists-in-residence at St Augustine’s and tour across Europe.

St Augustine’s is open every day between 10am and 4pm for visiting.

Clive Aslet, Editor-at-Large of Country Life magazine, has recently called for the site to become a World Heritage Site. Also on the site is Pugin’s house (The Grange) and the presbytery Pugin built for the church (St Edward’s), both of which are now owned by the Landmark Trust. The Grange is available to let for holidays and is open to the public every Wednesday afternoon. St Edward’s is currently being restored. Across the road is a monastery complex built by Pugin’s son for Benedictines which, since 2014, has been run by Catholic priests of the Vincentian Congregation from India. This site encapsulates Pugin’s idea of a perfect medieval society, and is the only place where his vision – which inspired great architectural and social change in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – was achieved.

Cardinal Burke’s visit marked the first pilgrimage by a cardinal to the recently-reinstated shrine of St Augustine at Pugin’s church. The original shrine, in Canterbury, was destroyed in 1538 by order of Thomas Cranmer and Henry VIII, but the status was accorded to St Augustine’s in 2012 by His Grace Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, after 474 years of abeyance.

The visit was also the first known visit of a cardinal from Rome to Ramsgate. Although cardinals serving as archbishops in England and France have visited, this is the first time a cardinal serving in Rome is known to have travelled to Ramsgate.

The significance of a Roman cardinal visiting is large: just as St Augustine came to this site from Rome, so now a cardinal visits from Rome. There are numerous other parallels with the historical accounts of Augustine’s arrival: Augustine entered Canterbury singing psalms, and Monday’s Mass began with the same; Augustine preached in Thanet, as did the cardinal; Augustine celebrated Mass near the site, as did the cardinal. Thus the cardinal’s visit marked the continuation of the culture and religion that St Augustine brought to these islands over 1,400 years ago.

Speaking of the ‘serious threat’ of ‘radical secularism’ that England faces, Cardinal Burke said, “[Pugin] sought to express and inspire by his architecture the nobility and beauty of a Christian culture during a time in which the Christian foundations of society were already under serious threat from the radical secularism of the thinking of the so-called Enlightenment.

“From historical accounts, we know how much Pope Saint Gregory the Great desired to bring the truth and love of Christ to the English nation [in the 6th century]. He had seen the English youth brought as slaves to Rome, and his heart was filled with compassion for them and for their fellow countrymen. 

“Thus, he called upon the monks of the Roman Monastery of Saint Andrew, from which he had been called to the See of Peter and of which Saint Augustine was the Prior, to undertake the long and difficult journey to England and to preach the Gospel in a place totally unknown to them.”

Augustus Pugin (1812-52) led the Gothic Revival with prodigious energy and output. His designs – of buildings, stonework, glasswork, metalwork, wallpaper, woodwork, encaustic tiles, and more – shaped cityscapes across the world. Although he died aged only 40, his legacy has embedded the idea of “pointed” architecture in the minds of millions of people. The church in Ramsgate (the only one Pugin built without patrons’ funding) is his vision of a gothic building and therefore of immense importance.

It has had £425,000 spent on urgent repairs in the last three years (largely funded by English Heritage). It has recently submitted a bid for £700,000 to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to create an Education, Research, and Visitor Centre. The result of the HLF bid will be made public in June.

Fr Marcus Holden, Rector of the Shrine, said, “We are deeply privileged that Cardinal Burke has made a journey to Ramsgate. It is a great honour to our volunteers and supporters, many of whom were here today, that such a man should come and greet us all here. His Eminence’s visit is also a very important event in the life of the shrine – a visit from Rome to honour Augustine, the Apostle of the English, who was in his turn sent from Rome.”

John Coverdale, Centre Manager at St Augustine’s, said, “There are so many stories to be told at this site, and the coming of St Augustine – the catalyst for our written English laws, English music, English art and culture, all tied up with our strong European and worldwide links – is a major story. It enhances our cultural awareness and participation and I hope many more people will come to learn about this important living history.”

More photographs are available on St Augustine’s Facebook page and on Juventutem London’s Flickr page.