The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has awarded Pugin’s Church of St Augustine, Ramsgate, a grant of £25,000 toward restoration work and plans to build an Education, Research and Visitor centre inside the church.
An event was held on 2nd March at which Chris Maton, from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, presented a plaque in recognition of the grant. They are the 16th grant giving organisation to support the restoration of St Augustine’s, and over 400 people have donated money privately to the project.
The event also marked the submission of St Augustine’s bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund in support of the project.
Approximately 100 people attended the event, including local schoolchildren, supporters, members of the Friends, as well as representatives of grant giving organisations. They heard speeches in support of the project from Clive Aslet (Editor-at-Large of Country Life), Robert Pugin Purcell (of the Pugin family), and Cllr Iris Johnston (Leader of Thanet District Council). The event was hosted by Fr Marcus Holden, Rector of St Augustine’s, which is the burial place of Augustus Pugin.
Fr Marcus Holden said “This project is locally driven, but it is a project that has a national importance. The things you see here inspired the architecture of a nation, Parliament was inspired by Ramsgate. We are very grateful for the donation from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Fund and for Lord Lloyd Webber’s personal interest and support for our project.
“It takes us one step nearer towards the church’s restoration and the setting up of a centre for Pugin inside the church.”
Robert Pugin Purcell said, “There is nowhere more suitable than Ramsgate for this project, and we hope that the Heritage Lottery Fund are able to support it.”
Cllr Iris Johnston said, “People will come from all over the world to see this amazing building,” and compared the project to the Turner Contemporary in Margate as a driver for the local area and centre of internationally-appreciated construction and art.
The site should become a World Heritage Site, said Clive Aslet, because of its importance. The site in Ramsgate is Pugin’s personal building where he exhibited, “A style, a passion, a religion, a community,” which continues to have direct influences across the English-speaking world.
The event took place the day after the 203rd anniversary of Augustus Pugin’s birth. The cost of the project to create the Education, Research, and Visitor Centre, and to restore the interior of the church to Pugin’s vision, is likely to be £800,000. The Heritage Lottery Fund are expected to make their decision on the bid public in June 2015, and funding continues to be sought.
For more photos of the event, please see our Facebook page.