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: http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2014/10/lead-kindly-light.html#.VG82wpVybIU

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.

ITV’s Alastair Stewart Hosts Fundraising Dinner

St Augustine’s held a Fundraising Dinner for Friends, donors and their guests, which was hosted by Alastair Stewart. The high-profile broadcaster, who went to school at the St Augustine’s Abbey School, has been a long supporter of the restoration of St Augustine’s and the proposed Education, Research, and Visitor Centre.


At the Dinner he gave an entertaining and passionate speech in which he called upon people to “preserve history”.


Alastair Stewart gives his speech


Citing the world-famous Houses of Parliament, Alastair Stewart said that we must always think of Pugin when we see them, and so think of Ramsgate. It was from his home is Ramsgate, next to St Augustine’s, that Pugin designed much of the Houses of Parliament.


Alastair Stewart said, “Pugin gave us a real treasure, something that represents a huge amount to the nation and the world. It is St Augustine’s in Ramsgate: the church Pugin built as the model that embodies his unique and valuable ideas. Look at the Houses of Parliament and you will see Pugin’s work everywhere. A symbol of our nation, the tower often known as Big Ben, is Pugin’s work, yet he pointed people not there but to St Augustine’s.


“We need just sixty thousand pounds to save history. St Augustine’s needs your support to open a dedicated education, research, and visitor centre, and to complete its restoration. This building is too important to lose. Please help if you can.”


Alastair Stewart also spoke about his time at the School which used to be run by Benedictine monks on the St Augustine’s site. “I remember the peace, the quiet, and the consolation that I could find in that church.”


Alastair Stewart chats with guests


Speaking after the dinner, the Rector of St Augustine’s, Fr Marcus Holden, said, “I am very grateful to Alastair Stewart for hosting this fundraising dinner for us. The visitor centre will enable us to tell the stories of St Augustine and Augustus Pugin, and to attract many more visitors, pilgrims, and tourists to Ramsgate. By restoring the interior, the church will once again be Pugin’s complete vision of the Gothic arts revived.


Fr Marcus Holden, Rector


“We need to raise the money to match-fund our Heritage Lottery Fund bid. Please help us to achieve this project, to re-present Pugin to the world, and to secure this most important site for the future.”


Fr Marcus Holden (Rector), John Coverdale (Centre Manager), Alastair Stewart, Andrew Sharp (Project Management Board)


Donors, Friends, and their guests enjoy the Fundraising Dinner



Donors and guests from London



Alastair with fellow Old Augustinians



Oonagh Robertson (long-standing volunteer) with Fr Marcus Holden



Alastair Stewart jokes with a guest

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!


Come and celebrate one of Thanet’s most notable residents this week!

Pugin Week 2014 - Poster


Alastair Stewart (of ITN broadcasting)

Paul Atterbury (of BBC Antiques Roadshow) in association with The Pugin Society


Victoria Consort (performing Terribilis Est – “It is Awesome”)

Sung Traditional Latin Mass on the date of Pugin’s death

Fr Marcus Holden, Rector, on Pugin’s life in Ramsgate


PLUS special tours of the tower (pre-booking essential)

Art in August – *New Exhibition*

Art in August (1)

St Augustine’s is welcoming fans of art and culture throughout August, with a display of work by London artists in the west cloister.

There are various kinds of art, from glass to printing to etching to watercolours. Many of the works have been inspired by the beautiful Gothic style of Pugin at St Augustine’s, and compliment the newly-restored Victorian stained glass.

The brand new display opened on Friday 2nd August, running until Sunday 31st August. Visitors will be able to admire the artistic creations in the east cloister. St Augustine’s has three cloisters, one containing the vibrant terracotta Stations of the Cross by De Beule (1893), one under repair, and the other will contain the exhibition.

This is a new venture for St Augustine’s, as the site is itself such a wonderful work of art. The works, as you can see, complement Pugin’s creation very well. It means that St Augustine’s is taking a pro-active approach to art, and we hope that it will encourage people to look at the art at to create art themselves. As St Augustine’s becomes a centre for artistic talent, we hope to encourage artists across a range of media, and to welcome more and more people to see the permanent and other art available to admire here.

The artworks on display are available for sale. Please contact the Stewards if you are interested.

The artists and their materials are as follows:

Karen Butti – Embroidered textiles

Nick Haseltine – Screenprinting

Juliet Johnson – Coloured and etched glass

John Richards – Pen and ink, watercolour

Paul Sharrock – Etching, digital prints, linoprints

DON’T FORGET: Cantate Chamber Choir concert – 7.30pm – St Augustine’s – 12th July

Don’t forget to book for CANTATE CHAMBER CHOIR concert on 12th July!

St Augustine’s — 7.30pm — Pimm’s and summer refreshments included!

Cantate Concert - 12.7.14

Cantate Chamber Choir will perform a wonderful set of music in honour of the Patron Saint of the Isle of Thanet, St Mildred.

The concert will be at St Augustine’s, Ramsgate, on Saturday 12th July at 7.30pm

In the interval Pimm’s and other summer refreshments will be served in the Garth Cloister Garden (included in the price), and the second half of the concert will be sung outside.

It promises to be a most enjoyable evening.

Tickets are £10, and the price includes interval refreshments.

Cantate logo

Tickets are available from 01843 592071, or by e-mailing office@augustineshrine.co.uk, or on the door.

Sat 12th July – 7.30pm – St Augustine’s, Ramsgate