CARDINAL BURKE: HUNDREDS TURN OUT FOR VISIT OF ROMAN CARDINAL

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.

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”