Thursday, May 04, 2023

Augustus Pugin’s Church of St Augustine of Canterbury in Ramsgate, England

Wholly unplanned, this week’s theme on NLM is “friends visiting beautiful churches.” On Sunday, we saw Nicola’s photos of the relics of St Peter Martyr in the Portinari Chapel in Milan (more photos of the chapel will be posted later this week), and yesterday, we saw photos taken by another friend of one of the clandestine Catholic churches of Amsterdam. Another of our frequent guest contributors, Mr James Griffin of the Durandus Institute for Sacred Liturgy and Music, is in England for the coronation of King Charles III on Saturday, and took the opportunity to visit the church of St Augustine of Canterbury at Ramsgate, a project of the great Augustus Pugin, who is buried in the church. When he died at the age of only 40 in 1852, the work was continued by his sons Edward and Peter. Of course, it would take a whole series of posts to justice to any Pugin project; fortunately, you can see the whole complex on the church’s website, which has a superb virtual tour that gives a lot of very good information about it.

Pugin was, of course, an ardent admirer and promotor of style and form of medieval English churches, so of course, the church has a rood screen, and a liturgical choir rather than a choir loft. In 1970, the church was barbarously vandalized by the Benedictines who had charge of it, but much of the vandalism has been undone; the Crucifix was removed in 1970, but replaced in 2019.

Unfortunately, the Benedictines destroyed the high altar installed by their community in 1884; in the recent dewreckovation, a new one was installed. The frontal is a fiber-glass replica of Pugin’s own work from the Jesuit church of the Immaculate Conception in London, showing the Crucifixion in the middle, and various Old Testament scenes of sacrifice.  
The baptismal font is the work of a friend of Pugin named George Myers (1804-75).
In the south aisle is this modern piece which houses reliquaries of Ss Augustine of Canterbury, his successor, Lawrence, one of his original companions on his first missionary voyage to England, and Pope Gregory the Great, who sent them.
In the middle of the south aisle is a chantry chapel which contains Pugin’s tomb, designed by his son Edward.
The deacons Ss Stephen and Lawrence
Details of the tomb, which is decorated with image of Pugin, his wife, and their eight children.

Edward Pugin

The family coat of arms.
The Lady Chapel at the end of the south aisle.
In the west side of the church’s cloister, the grave of a friend of Pugin, Alfred Luck, who became a monk and a priest.
This tabernacle was designed by Pugin for St Augustine’s, but is now in the Anglican cathedral of Southwark.

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