Visitor Centre for St Augustine’s church, Ramsgate

Published: Monday, October 22, 2012

 

A National Appeal to provide a Visitor and Education Centre for Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin’s famous St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate was launched at a reception on 17 October 2012 in the House of Commons.

In launching the appeal, Fr Marcus Holden, Chairman of the Friends of St Augustine spoke of the need for new facilities in the church to accommodate the growing number of visitors who come to St Augustine’s church in Ramsgate to learn more about Pugin, one of the most influential architects of his time and see his burial place and the new Shrine of St Augustine of England to whom the church is dedicated.( Picture left shows Fr Marcus Holden Laura Sandys MP Dr Rowan Williams - Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Pugin Purcell and Clive Aslet - Editor at Large Country Life Magazine)

“The creation of a visitor and education centre will provide much needed facilities for the many people who visit St Augustine’s. We are appealing for help to make this exciting possibility a reality in 2013”.

60 invited guests including the Archbishop of Canterbury and politicians from both Houses of Parliament heard speeches supporting the appeal launch from Clive Aslet, Editor at Large of Country Life and Robert Pugin Purcell, the great great grandson of Pugin.
 
Also present were representatives of English Heritage, The National Churches Trust, Friends of Kent Churches and the Pugin Society who have so far supported the Restoration work.  There were many other guests from Thanet and elsewhere who have supported the campaign to save and restore the 160-year-old Catholic church.

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said:

"It really is so encouraging thanks to the efforts of the Friends of St Augustine. that more people are visiting the church and  learning  more about Pugin. A t the start of 2012,  the National Churches Trust awarded a grant of £40,000 towards major repairs at St Augustine’s church.  This is a building of national architectural, historic and cultural significance, with its close links to one of our country’s greatest architects. It is therefore highly deserving of one of the Trust’s largest grants."

Chairman of Friends of St Augustine, Fr Marcus Holden spoke of his delight at the support given so far, not only from Trusts and donors, but from the local community without whose enthusiasm the project could not have got off the ground.
 
Fr Marcus went on to say “We have seen a significant increase in visitors over the past year and this is set to rise with the ever growing interest in Pugin and the new shrine to St Augustine of England which is bringing more pilgrims to the church from around the country.”  

“That is why we have launched the next important phase of this very special project”

Fr Marcus Holden also thanked the Archbishop of Canterbury for attending the launch and invited all those with shared Christian heritage in St Augustine to visit the church.

Plans for the new facilities are being drawn up and it is hoped that they will provide a small shop and an exhibition area on Pugin and St Augustine of England.  Plans for education facilities are also being drawn up to cater for the increasing number of school and university visits to the Church. The visitor centre will not interfere with the church’s daily services and events and any planned work will not alter the original fabric of the building.

At the end of the reception, many MPs, Peers and guests attended Mass to celebrate the life of Augustus Northmore Welby Pugin in the Chapel of St Mary’s Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster.  Fr Marcus Holden gave the homily and spoke about how Pugin’s architecture was driven by his faith.

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 augustinefriends597@gmail.com.  You can also visit the website