St Augustine’s church, Ramsgate marks end of Pugin bi-centenary celebrations

5th March 2013

St Augustine’s Ramsgate celebrates success of Pugin bi-centenary and newest Catholic Shrine

St Augustine’s church, Ramsgate has celebrated the end of the Augustine Welby Northmore Pugin bi-centenary with a special mass to celebrate his life and to mark the first anniversary of the church becoming a shrine to St Augustine who landed in Thanet in 597 AD

The Mass, celebrating the life of Pugin, was held last Friday.  The congregation packed into the church to hear the visiting chief celebrant, Abbot Cuthbert Brogan, talk about the life of Pugin and the significance of his work here in Ramsgate and across many countries.  Pugin’s Great Great Grandson, Robert Pugin Purcell gave the reading and later along with Abbot Cuthbert carried out the opening ceremony of the church’s Cloister Garden which had been reset and restored after years of being overgrown and in a state of disrepair.

During the Mass a very special event took place when Abbot Cuthbert placed a relic of Pope Gregory the Great in the Pugin chapel.  The relic of the Pope who was known to have sent Augustine to evangelise England in 597 AD had been acquired from Rome.  Gregory the Great is most famously credited with the remark before he was Pope when he was presented with some slaves in the market-place in Rome from England.  On being told they were Angles, he is understood to have said “not angles, but angels.”

A reception was held afterwards in Pugin’s Cartoon room in the grounds of the Grange.   Commenting on the event, Robert Pugin Purcell said that he was delighted by this tribute to Pugin .  “If my Gt Gt Gandfather could have witnessed the events in his church today, he would have been delighted.”

Fr Marcus Holden, Parish Priest and Custodian of the church said. “It has been a wonderful celebration this evening – one of many enjoyable and successful events over the last year marking the bi-centenary of Pugin’s birth and to celecbrate the first anniversary of the church becoming a shrine for St Augustine”.

He went on to day.  “This celebration has capped off a fine year for the Friends of St Augustine’s. I have been particularly pleased how so many people and organisations from Ramsgate, Thanet and from much further afield representing so many interests, have visited Pugin’s church for the first time.  I am even more pleased that since we have opened our doors to everyone we have seen a significant interest in the numbers of tourist visitors and members of the general public who are coming to Ramsgate to see Pugin’s great work and to enjoy our church.”

On the progress of the Restoration work, Fr Marcus went on to say “Slowly but surely we are restoring this fine church built by Pugin, but we still have some way to go.  We invite everyone to come along and visit the church – there is no charge to enter and we want to listen to visitors’ views about the church and to make it as welcoming as possible.  It is important that the church is seen as one the great historic attractions in Thanet as well as a place of special worship.  It is there for everyone to enjoy.

Friends of Pugin’s St Augustine’s church will shortly be publishing its new programme of activity – details will appear on its website www.augustinefriends.co.uk.  Opening times may also be found on the website.

Notes for editors:

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1 March 1812 – 14 September 1852) 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 Gothic revival work culminated in the interior design of the Palace of Westminster and its world famous clock tower, ‘Big Ben’.  Pugin designed many churches in England, and some in Ireland and Australia and his influence is international.

St Augustine’s church is the ‘ideal church’ of Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-1852) who constructed it between 1845-1852 next to his home ‘the Grange’ according to his ‘true principles of Christian architecture’.

 

(If you would like to support St Augustine’s church, please write to Fr Marcus Holden, Chairman of Friends of St Augustine 72 Hereson Road, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 7DS or email office@augustineshrine.co.uk.  You can also visit the website:www.augustinefriends.co.uk )

The restoration campaign to save and restore Pugin’s church started in 2011 with the setting up of Friends of St Augustine’s.  This March has marked the end of the celebrations of the  200th anniversary of Pugin’s birth when his church was declared a shrine to St Augustine.

For further information or comment please contact Fr. Marcus Holden on 07738 153081

Historian, broadcaster and Politician, Dr Tristram Hunt MP is guest speaker for Friends of Pugin’s St Augustine’s, Ramsgate, regional fundraising dinner

Historian, Broadcaster and politician, Dr Tristram Hunt MP will the guest speaker at the first annual Regional Fundraising Dinner in support of the restoration of Pugin’s church of St Augustine in Ramsgate.

The dinner will also mark the end of the Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin’s biecentenary year celebrations.  The famous Victorian architect who was born in 1812 lived for many years in the Grange in Ramsgate and had built St Augustine’s church next door.  Many of his great designs were from his home in Ramsgate, including the interior of the Houses of Parliament and the famous clock tower, which houses ‘Big Ben’.  The dinner will also mark the regional launch to develop a visitor and education centre at the church in Ramsgate.

Chairman of the Friends of St Augustine, Fr Marcus Holden said “We are delighted that Dr Tristram Hunt MP has agreed to support our dinner.  He has taken such an interest in the life and times of Pugin and it is fitting that a Member of Parliament should be our guest speaker, connecting the work of Pugin in both Westminster and Thanet.

Commenting on his visit, Dr Tristram Hunt, who has presented many history programmes on television and radio, said “I am very pleased to accept the kind invitation by the Friends of St Augustine’s, to pay tribute to Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.  I am also pleased to support the Friends in their appeal to raise funds to restore the famous Victorian architect’s magnificent church in Ramsgate.”

Dr Hunt added “Pugin did much to influence Victorian attitudes towards architecture and the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are testimony to his fine work.  Here in Thanet he designed many wonderful buildings – none more so than the church he is buried in – St Augustine’s, Ramsgate – it is well worth saving and it deserves support.”

Proceeds from the dinner will go towards funding the next phase of the project to restore the church, which includes plans for a visitor and education centre, promoting the work of Pugin and the history of the landing of St Augustine in Thanet in 597 AD.

Friends’ chairman, Fr Marcus Holden went on to say “We are making good progress with the restoration project, but there is still much to do.  In 2013 we will be holding a number of events aimed at gaining support for this important restoration project.  This fundraising dinner is an opportunity for supporters and those across Kent interested in the project to come together to help take the restoration of Pugin’s church of St Augustine a step further”.

The fundraising dinner will be attended by guests from across Kent and will take place at St Augustine’s in Canterbury Road, Westgate on Thursday 7th March.  There are a limited number of tickets for the dinner still available from Friends of St Augustine, 72 Hereson Road, Ramsgate, CT11 7DS or emailstaugustineramsgate.appeal@gmail.com