The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, London, held its Year 10 retreat at St Augustine’s on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th June 2014, bringing its pupils to Ramsgate for the first time. Half the year came on Thursday, and the other half on Friday.
The main features of the day had the pupils put into two groups. One group watched a film telling the story of St Augustine and his place in English history – the film was partly shot in St Augustine’s itself. The other group was halved again, and taken on tours of the site. One group was led by the Rector and the other by the Centre Manager. These tours gave the pupils an appreciation of Pugin and his creation, and the meanings of the many items and designs in St Augustine’s.
For many of the boys this was their first explicit encounter with Gothic Revival architecture, and they were told about its symbolism, and its value to the nation. This was part of a great cultural education for them. They were also told about Augustus Pugin, his links with the Houses of Parliament, and his connection to Ramsgate. Many boys were fascinated by his tomb, here in St Augustine’s.
After the tours Fr Marcus gave a short talk to the pupils. CVMS is a Catholic school for boys, and so this talk was on the nature of Catholicism in England, and its long history dating back to the Roman Empire and, later but most especially, to St Augustine’s mission in 597.
The talk was followed by a period of prayer led by the lead teacher, Mr. Kelly, then Mass was celebrated by Fr Marcus. The relic of St Augustine was venerated by the pupils and staff following Mass.Fr Marcus said, “The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School retreat were excellent days. The boys seemed to engage with both the historical and spiritual aspects of their visit, and I hope they benefitted from their retreat. We very much look forward to welcoming them again, and expanding our provision to schools.”
The fundraising campaign for St Augustine’s to match fund a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant is ongoing and you can donate to it here. This will enable the construction of an Education, Research, and Visitor Centre which will greatly enhance school visits as well as opportunities for other groups, tourists, general public, and researchers to learn about and enjoy Pugin’s designs.