Tuesday, 5 August 2014


Ramsgate’s tourism industry received a great endorsement last week when top officials from the National Churches Trust and the Friends of Kent Churches visited St Augustine’s, Ramsgate. A flagship project in the town, St Augustine’s is undergoing restoration and plans to open an Education, Research, and Visitor Centre in 2015/16. The National Churches Trust is the country’s the only national, independent, charity dedicated to promoting and supporting church buildings of historic, architectural and community value across the UK, and one of the largest funders of such projects. The Friends of Kent Churches makes grants to churches to repair their fabric, and runs the annual Kentish ‘Ride and Stride’ in which St Augustine’s will be taking part on 13th September. The delegation received an extensive private tour of St Augustine’s, led by the Rector, Fr Marcus Holden, and the Architect, Paul Sharrock, of Thomas Ford and Partners. They were shown the impressive amount of work that has been done over the last four years – and is ongoing – that is securing the site for future generations. They also saw the impressive font and cover, as well as the stained glass and numerous other features. Also on display were collections of published material and press cuttings about St Augustine’s collated since this project began three years ago – now running to six large volumes. Tiles, old stonework, and window lead sections were available to view, as well as materials being replaced by the latest phase of restoration. Each delegate had a copy of the Annual Report of Activities. Lunch was held in the Cartoon Room of The Grange, next door, with various Pugin Society, Ramsgate Society, members and volunteers joining the delegates. A presentation was given by Andrew Sharp on the plans for St Augustine’s and the associated fundraising, which was an excellent summary of St Augustine’s purpose and vision. This was followed by questions to the Architect and Rector in a vibrant and jolly atmosphere. The National Churches Trust and the Friends of Kent Churches gave a vote of thanks, and spoke of their appreciation at seeing such progress in Ramsgate on such an important building. Afterwards, Georgina Rogerson of the National Churches Trust, said, “We were all deeply impressed and indeed inspired by our visit, and were thrilled to see a church doing all the right things, with such a fantastic team working so hard (and so well) to support it, and clearly thriving.” Fr Marcus Holden, Rector, said, “It was tremendous to have the National Churches Trust and the Friends of Kent Churches visit us, who have been so generous and enabled St Augustine’s really to begin to prosper. As we build on what has already been achieved, all the support we receive is as important as ever.” Andrew Sharp, part of the project team, said, “It is thanks to the Friends of Kent Churches, and the National Churches Trust, as well as other bodies and volunteers, that we have been able to open St Augustine’s and welcome Ramsgate’s residents and visitors into this most important building. To have them visit us, amongst all the many projects that they fund, has made this a really great day.” St Augustine’s is open to the public – free – every day between 10am and 4pm. St Augustine’s is undergoing a major restoration and expansion programme. Currently under way is Phase 3, which is repairing the roof of the Schoolroom and Library as well as restoring the East Window, windows in the West Cloister, and various stonework. This has received significant funding from English Heritage. St Augustine’s is open from 10am to 4pm every day. Entrance is free, and donations are welcome. The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded St Augustine’s £82,000 in November to fund a Development Phase towards a full grant of almost a million pounds. This will enable the creation of an Education, Research and Visitor Centre which will be a focus of exhibitions, studies, and access to Pugin and St Augustine. Already attracting groups from across the country and the world, the planned centre will make Ramsgate an even greater point on the map. Fundraising for approximately £90,000 is underway, which must be raised by Spring 2015, in order to qualify for the full grant. For more information, contact the Friends of St Augustine at office@augustineshrine.co.uk or write to 72, Hereson Road, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 7DS.

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