Heritage Lottery Fund Success!

St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate has received a confirmed grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to create the Pugin and St Augustine Education, Research, and Visitor Centre, it was announced at an event at the site on Tuesday. The project aims to open up Pugin’s own St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate to tell the intertwined stories of the famous architect and designer Augustus Pugin and of St Augustine of Canterbury. The HLF will fund 74% of the project which will cost £810,000. With additional works also envisaged, the total cost will be almost £1millon.

The project creates an Education, Research, and Visitor centre, opening up for all, as never before, the two intertwined heritage stories of AWN Pugin, the architect who designed much of Parliament, and Saint Augustine, who brought Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England. Uncovering these often hidden histories of the famous Architect, who lived and is buried in Ramsgate, and the Saint, who landed there, this project brings heritage alive.

800K LOTTERY AWARD (14 of 68)

It also allows Pugin’s ‘ideal’ church to be open every day for everyone, providing new activities, and spaces with new facilities and displays to interpret Pugin’s work and St Augustine’s landing. It will restore key elements of the building to Pugin’s original vision and will open up a research area for students and scholars.

800K LOTTERY AWARD (25 of 68)

St Ethelbert’s Primary School choir sang

FOR MORE PHOTOS VISIT: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.409371609255518.1073741839.250670255125655&type=1&l=069c34c773

It aims to inspire a vast number of partners and supporters including Parliament, the Victoria and Albert Museum, local authorities, the Pugin Society, schools, Friends, and thousands of individual supporters and visitors. Its growing team of committed, skilled volunteers works to involve more local people from diverse backgrounds. This locally driven initiative aims to contribute to Thanet’s economic regeneration by attracting more visitors locally, nationally and internationally.

800K LOTTERY AWARD (38 of 68)

The church was built by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1 March 1812 – 14 September 1852). He 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 legacy continues to create waves today. His most famous Gothic Revival work is the interior design of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, and the design of its clock tower, commonly referred to as ‘Big Ben’, is by Pugin. Pugin designed over 200 buildings or parts of buildings, including many churches, in England, Ireland, and Australia; his influence can be seen across America, Europe and throughout the English-speaking world.

Pugin’s designs include furniture and wallpaper – all in the Gothic style and principles that he advocated. His revolutionary reinvention of manufacturing and design techniques, along with his collaborators and friends, include progress in stonework, metalwork, stained glass, encaustic tiles, and more. All of this will be on display – in original items – at St Augustine’s.

800K LOTTERY AWARD (56 of 68)

Paul Hudson (Chair, Heritage Lottery Fund South East), Fr Marcus Holden (Rector), Alastair Stewart (Patron), John Coverdale (Centre Manager), and Andrew Sharp (External Relations)

St Augustine’s church is the ‘ideal church’ of Pugin, who constructed it with his own money and delighted in being “my own paymaster” where he could fully obey his ‘true principles of Christian architecture’. He built it between 1845 and 1852 next to his home ‘The Grange’ on the clifftop at Ramsgate. He described the church as ‘my own child’ and it was to be ‘a revival of the old Kentish churches stone & flint’, with a chantry chapel ‘that may be the burial place of my family’. The church stands as symbol of the Catholic revival of the 19th century, epitomised by Pugin’s own life and conversion to Catholicism in 1835. St Augustine’s is also an integral part of Pugin’s own medieval Gothic revival which inspired the nation at large. It was being constructed at the same time that Pugin was designing the new interiors for the Houses of Parliament and the famous clock tower ‘Big Ben’.

Pugin envisaged social reform alongside his design reforms. He contrasted the harsh nineteenth century living with the seemingly more charitable and social life of the middle ages. He aimed at constructing a better society through constructing better buildings.

Pugin moved to St Augustine’s, as he called his site in Ramsgate, in 1843 specifically because it was ‘close to the spot where blessed Austin landed’. His building of the church therefore stands as a monument to the arrival of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England recalling the landing of St Augustine in AD597. This is a seminal part of English culture as St Augustine not only brought the faith that would shape English culture, but he also brought music, art, architecture, the idea of written laws, books, and learning to England for the first time since the Romans. In many elements, English culture is rooted in St Augustine and his arrival near this site in AD597.

There is no one other place in the country where one can learn so much about Pugin than from his own church and resting place in Ramsgate. The grant will ensure that the story of Pugin, his life and works, can be seen and explored; it will allow visitors to interpret St Augustine, the saint Pugin dedicated his church to so near to where he landed in 597. The life and work of both Pugin and of St Augustine is an important part (and, in recent years, a forgotten one too) of Ramsgate’s, Kent’s, and England’s heritage which the Education, Research and Visitor Centre, with Heritage Lottery funding, will make come alive for the benefit of all.

800K LOTTERY AWARD (68 of 68)

Fr Marcus Holden, Rector of St Augustine’s church said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this grant, not only for ourselves but for Ramsgate as a whole. The Pugin and St Augustine Education, Research and Visitor Centre will allow us to bring alive the intertwined stories of Pugin and St Augustine, opening up the church to everyone, attracting community involvement, and visitors from across the UK and beyond. It is wonderful news that we are now a step closer to providing new facilities in St Augustine’s to view, learn and study about this great architect and the saint to whom he dedicated the site.

John Coverdale, Centre Manager at St Augustine’s, said, “People are so interested in the hidden histories we have here, and how good it will be to open it all up to the public. It is great to see so many people – from across the world – show such enthusiasm and support for this excellent project. We have developed links with so many people and institutions, and, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund grant that we are announcing today, St Augustine’s has a great and fascinating future.”

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Pugin is widely known around the world for his pioneering role in the Gothic Revival and the Palace of Westminster’s impressive interiors but his important links with Ramsgate are generally less appreciated. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this project will help to redress that balance. Through the new Education, Research and Visitor centre, the stories of this important local church and that of Pugin himself can be told properly to visitors for the first time.

SAVING A CENTURY: The Victorian Society FREE exhibition at St Augustine’s: 1st – 31st August

SAC Ramsgate poster

St Augustine’s is this year’s south eastern destination for The Victorian Society’s travelling exhibition, Saving a Century. This charts the first fifty years of The Victorian Society and is a fascinating display.

The exhibition is FREE and will be on display every day (10am-4pm) in the cloisters of St Augustine’s, immediately at the entrance. No booking necessary.

For more information please visit: http://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/events/saving-a-century/

CONCERT: SAT 4TH JULY – Cantate Chamber Choir: An Evening of Sacred and Secular

Cantate Poster

The cloister garth at Pugin’s St Augustine’s will resound with music sung by Thanet-based choir Cantate Chamber Choir this weekend.

The concert will begin in the church, with music written for religious purposes. The concert will fit perfectly with the beautiful interior of St Augustine’s, which will be illuminated with summer light streaming through the unique stained glass windows.

After the first half, the choir will show their versatility by entertaining concert-goers with secular music. The concert will move outside (weather permitting) to the cloister garth. This garden is the enclosed centrepiece of the site and will resonate with music.

Refreshments will be served, included in the price.

The concert is at 7.30pm, on Saturday 4th July, at St Augustine’s church, St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate.

Tickets are £10. Tickets will be available on the door, or can be reserved by e-mailing office@augustineshrine.co.uk or calling 01843 592071.

Centre Manager, John Coverdale, said, “This is going to be an excellent concert. We are so fortunate to have such a lively and high-quality musical life here on Ramsgate’s Westcliff. I hope many people will come to enjoy this excellent evening.”

ST AUGUSTINE WEEK – featured on Vatican Radio

Vatican Radio covers St Augustine Week: Listen here!

A week full of events! See the programme here, or on Facebook, or below:


11.15, 13.00, 13.45, 14.15, 14.45, 16.00

Throughout the day

SPECIALIST TALKS — 1.30pm and 3.30pm


MASS: Missa Cantata (Extraordinary Form), sung by The Victoria Consort — 12 noon



***NATIONAL PILGRIMAGE*** to the Shrine of St Augustine
A full day of events, beginning with a Procession at 11am and Mass at 12 noon (Celebrant: Mgr Gordon Read, in the Extraordinary Form)


WAY OF ST AUGUSTINE – DAY 1 – new walking route
The route runs from Canterbury, through the beautiful Kent countryside, via some pretty villages and significant sites, and to Ramsgate.
Overnight stop 26th-27th May in Stourmouth, courtesy of The Churches Conservation Trust.
Group 1 sets off from Canterbury — 8.30am


Join yesterday’s group if you weren’t walking the first day!
Meet at Plucks Gutter at 10am (buses available to arrive at 9.42am)


Celebrant: The Rector, Fr Marcus Holden
Preacher: Fr Tim Finigan


Setting off from St Ethelbert’s — 10am
Pick-up St Augustine’s — 10.05am

LIGHT SUPPER in St Ethelbert’s Church Hall — 6pm

In St Ethelbert’s Church Hall


Setting off from the Granville Theatre

PILGRIMAGE AND SAINT AUGUSTINE, a lecture by Fr Marcus Holden and John Coverdale — 7pm
In St Ethelbert’s Church Hall


Setting off from Hugin Viking Ship

At Minster Abbey


MASS: Missa Cantata (Extraordinary Form), sung by The Victoria Consort — 12 noon

VESPERS AND BENEDICTION, sung by the Schola Augustini — 5pm


New research has revealed that the renowned designer of the Houses of Parliament – Augustus Pugin (1812 – 1852) – had a private holiday home in the south of France.

Pugin's retreat in southern France

Pugin’s retreat in southern France

Pugin is well known for making rapid tours of both the United Kingdom and of parts of Europe, but it seems that he would sojourn in southern France for several weeks every year. This leisurely side of Pugin has not been appreciated until now.

In a time when travel was slow, except for the railways (which Pugin often used), his retreat some way south of the Dordogne provided seclusion unlike anywhere in England. It also allowed him the opportunity to build a complete fortified project in addition to his seminal clifftop Gothic Revival site in Ramsgate.

Pugin’s French ancestry is believed to have influenced his choice of France for his private retreat. Although he was most familiar with northern France, and his ancestors were from eastern France and Switzerland, the new research unveils his admiration for King John’s military campaigns to overthrow the Cathars and to re-establish the English crown’s dominion over parts of south-western France.

It is believed that Pugin’s generous patron, the Earl of Shrewsbury, suggested that Pugin may want to build a private residence closer to the Mediterranean as the weather would be better for Pugin’s poor health than the weather at Alton Towers in Shropshire. Pugin was a frequent visitor to Alton Towers.

Many of Pugin’s letters sent from his French retreat are dated 1st April.

Holy Week and Easter Services 2015

Wednesday 1st April   Spy Wednesday

9pm       Tenebrae


Thursday 2nd April   Maundy Thursday

4.30pm   Mass of Maundy Thursday

9pm        Tenebrae


Friday 3rd April   Good Friday

11am     Stations of the Cross along Royal Esplanade, beginning at St Augustine’s, in collaboration with Divine Retreat Centre UK (based in the former monastery complex opposite St Augustine’s)

6.30pm  Good Friday Liturgy

9pm       Tenebrae


Saturday 4th April   Holy Saturday

5pm       Easter Vigil Mass


Sunday 5th April   Easter Sunday

8.30am   Mass

12 noon  Mass

St Augustine’s to celebrate Easter in the Extraordinary Form

The Shrine of St Augustine of England in Ramsgate will celebrate all Easter ceremonies in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite this year. It is one of only six churches in England and Wales that will have all these ceremonies in this form this year.

This will be the second consecutive year that St Augustine’s has had an entirely Extraordinary Form Easter. Celebration of Easter with Extraordinary Form liturgies has been unusual since reforms to the church’s liturgies during the 1970s. The ceremonies are becoming more common since the clarification of their status in the document Summorum Pontinficum by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.

The services will be sung by St Augustine’s resident choir, The Victoria Consort. Everyone is welcome to attend all or some of the ceremonies.

The ceremonies are particularly renowned for their beauty and deep meaning. Although they happen on separate days, they form a whole pattern that commemorates Jesus’s final days and resurrection. On Thursday (Maundy Thursday), Mass is celebrated in the evening and recalls the Last Supper and the Institution of the Eucharist. This is when Jesus ate his last meal with his disciples before his crucifixion, and when he gave the Eucharist to his disciples – when the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ – instructing them to, “Do this in memory of me”. At the end of the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament will be taken to Peter Paul Pugin’s Altar of the Sacred Heart where it will be reserved for Holy Communion on Good Friday.

On Good Friday the liturgy involves various prayers at the beginning of the service, followed by the veneration of a crucifix which is displayed to the congregation. This unique liturgy takes place on the day that Jesus’s crucifixion is commemorated. By kissing the foot of the crucifix, the people show their respect and love for Jesus Christ and his sacrifice, represented by the crucifix itself. This is followed by the distribution of Holy Communion, which was consecrated at Mass the evening before. Because Good Friday is the day that Jesus’s death is commemorated most solemnly, Mass is not said on this day.

On Holy Saturday the liturgy celebrates Christ’s resurrection, which prefigures our own resurrection and new life. It is therefore a very solemn and joyful ceremony. It begins with a fire and lighting the new Paschal Candle, which symbolises Christ who is called the “Light of the World.” A special text called the “Exultet” is sung which calls on the people to rejoice in the resurrection of Christ. There are readings from the Bible of the prophesies from the Old Testament fulfilled by Jesus, followed by New Testament readings. Mass is then celebrated for the first time since Maundy Thursday, which includes various unique ceremonies such as the blessing of the font (in this case, the one made by George Myers for Augustus Pugin and much admired by Queen Victoria at the Great Exhibition in 1851).

Tenebrae (Latin for ‘darkness’) will be sung on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. It is a sung version of the Extraordinary Form of the Divine Office – the series of psalms and prayers said each day by monks, nuns, priests, and laypeople – and has a particular character on those days. The candles are gradually extinguished until, at the end of the service, the church is in total darkness. Books are then banged on the pews. This dramatic effect symbolises the darkness and earthquake which are recorded to have happened at Jesus’s death.

Everyone is welcome to attend all or some of the ceremonies.

St Augustine’s, the personal church of the leading Victorian Gothic Revival architect Augustus Pugin, was built for Catholic worship beginning in 1846. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) have supported the development of a bid to create an Education, Research, and Visitor Centre in several rooms on the site; the interior of the church will also be restored to Pugin’s vision by reversing modifications made in the twentieth century. The HLF project will open St Augustine’s to even more audiences and enable engagement with the considerable artistic, design, architectural, stonework, glasswork, and other skills that are able to be studied at this seminal and historic building.

St Augustine’s is within the Parish of Ramsgate and Minster but is not the parish church. The parish priest, Fr Marcus Holden, will celebrate Easter in the Ordinary Form at the parish church of SS Ethelbert and Gertrude. For service times at the parish church and at Minster Abbey, please see the parish website www.ramsgateandminster.com

The liturgies at St Augustine’s are generously supported by private donors and the Latin Mass Society. For more information on the five other places where these liturgies will be held in this form, please see http://www.lmschairman.org/2015/03/holy-week-in-england-and-wales.html.

Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation £25,000 Grant received, and Heritage Lottery Fund bid submitted

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.

CONCERT: Thames Chamber Choir offers spectacular programme – 21st March, 7.30pm

Thames Chamber Choir

The renowned Thames Chamber Choir will sing a concert in St Augustine’s, Ramsgate, on Saturday 21st March at 7.30pm.

Making their return by popular demand after last year’s impressive performance, the Thames Chamber Choir will be singing for one night only in Ramsgate. The centrepiece will be by the English composer William Byrd, with other pieces by Rachmaninoff, Tavener, and others.

Directed by Andrew Campling and Christian Spielmann, the Thames Chamber Choir is based in east London and performs across the British Isles. They sing concerts and for church services and have 20 members.

The centrepiece of Saturday’s concert will be the musical setting Mass in Four Parts by William Byrd (1540-1623), and other pieces include works by Chesnokov, Hawley, Lauridsen, Pärt, Rachmaninoff, Sisask, and Tavener. This represents a huge range of centuries and inspirations which is sure to produce an entertaining evening.

Tickets are £10, concessions £7.50. Tickets available on the door or in advance from 01843 850829.

Centre Manager, John Coverdale, said, “We are really looking forward to this concert, especially after the high standard of the Thames Chamber Choir’s visit last year. St Augustine’s is becoming a place for many groups to make music, and we very much enjoy welcoming the musicians who come to perform here and the people who come to listen and watch them.”