Monday, 9 June 2014


The Duke of Kent has visited Pugin’s church of St Augustine in Ramsgate, one of the most important architectural buildings in the country, to see the plans for an Education, Research, and Visitor Centre about Augustus Pugin and St Augustine of England. Most famous for designing much of the Houses of Parliament, Augustus Pugin made St Augustine’s his personal design and is buried there in his own chantry chapel.
Funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant totalling about £800,000 – for which match funding of £90,000 is being sought – an Education, Research and Visitor Centre will be constructed at the site. This will form the major national centre of Pugin studies and the story of St Augustine.
The Duke was introduced to the Rector, Fr Marcus Holden, by the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, and then to Fr Paul Mason (Episcopal Vicar for Kent), Paul Sharrock (Architect), Nigel Warner (Board Member), and John Coverdale (Centre Manager).
His Royal Highness was shown the interior of the church and took particular interest in Pugin’s tomb (designed in medieval style by Pugin’s son) and the imposing baptismal font, which formed a centrepiece of the Great Exhibition in 1851. At the Exhibition, the Duke’s great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, returned to see the font twice.
The Duke signed the Visitors’ Book and was given a present including books and a DVD about Pugin and St Augustine as well as St Augustine’s recently-published Annual Report of activities.
Rector of St Augustine’s, Fr Marcus Holden, said, “The Duke was very interested in the project at St Augustine’s. In fact, he stayed almost double the expected time, and took particular interest in our plans for community engagement through being open to the public, and opening an education centre.”
The Duke was shown a collection of Pugin church plate owned by St Augustine’s, which is part of the Gothic industrial revolution legacy. The items will be displayed in the completed Visitor Centre, but are in active use too. Their significance to Britain’s industrial history will be explained in the Centre, and formed a lecture in the church by Jamie Jacobs of Kent University a few days later.
Volunteers at St Augustine’s were given the opportunity to meet the Duke, and he greeted them individually before he left. One volunteer said, “It’s tremendous to feel recognised by royalty. I’m so pleased that he came to see what we’re doing here.”
The Duke concluded his visit and bade farewell at the door of St Augustine’s.
After visiting St Augustine’s the Duke went to Thanet Earth, a nearby greenhouse agricultural development.

The Duke’s visit, on Tuesday 27th May, took place on the feast of St Augustine of Canterbury and during Ramsgate’s celebratory St Augustine Week.

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