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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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