CHAUCER’S FAMOUS PILGRIMS’ WAY EXPLORED IN NEW DVD, co-presented by the Rector of St Augustine’s

To Be A Pilgrim DVD launch large

You are invited to the launch of a new DVD telling the story of the famous and popular Pilgrims’ Way trail.

A new DVD is being launched on 17th October, at 2pm, at the Gulbenkian Cineman in Canterbury, exploring the Pilgrims’ Way made famous in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”. The launch is free and open to all.

The Pilgrims’ Way has become popular in recent years, after much of it was designated a walking trail: the North Downs Way. It joins with the ancient trail between Winchester and Canterbury, which is also becoming a popular walking route. The DVD takes in both of these routes, beginning at Southwark (as Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ does) and travelling through Kent.

Entitled “To Be a Pilgrim” this new DVD is in three 40-minute episodes, tracking six days walking from London to Canterbury. Historic and important places on the route are discovered and explored in the beautiful Kentish countryside. All three episodes will be played at the launch on 17th October.

Presented by historian and Catholic priest, Fr Nicholas Schofield, and writer and Rector of St Augustine’s in Ramsgate, Fr Marcus Holden, the DVD explores the spiritual motivations of pilgrimage too, as well as some of the tales of pilgrims from times past. It travels through places including Rochester, Aylesford, Otford, Kemsing, Harbledown, to Canterbury and its Cathedral.

The DVD is made by St Anthony Communications, based in Pembrokeshire. They have produced a range of DVDs, including one about St Augustine of Canterbury, and about St Mildred and Minster Abbey in Thanet.

The launch is free and open to all, followed by refreshments. It is at 2pm on 17th October, at the Gulbenkian Cinema on the University of Kent campus at Tyler Hill, Canterbury. Postcode is CT2 7NB. No booking is necessary, but please call 01834 812643 or e-mail to be sure of a place.


A short trailer for the DVD is available here:

Further information is available by contacting Christian Holden at

To Be A Pilgrim DVD poster

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


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:

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 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.