insideKENT Magazine Issue 49 - April 2016 - Page 97

St Augustine's © Ludmila Griffin St Augustine's Procession © Ludmila Griffin Lady Chapel © Ludmila Griffin described it as his child. He wanted to use real Kentish materials, and create the first in a Revival of Kentish church stones. There was no expense spared in re-building Pugin’s church, and he was proud of using only the finest materials and the most skilled of workmen. This church, and the house by its side, inspired a nation to look back at the Gothic era, and to re-imagine it. There was no one to tell Pugin how to build his church, and that was exactly what he wanted – he used his own money so that he wouldn’t feel beholden to investors, and although it took him longer than he might have liked, the end result was worth the money, the sweat, and the toil. The Gothic Revival was a turning point in the world’s architecture, and it all stems from this site in Ramsgate. Currently being built is a new visitor centre at St Augustine’s which gives details on the history and the importance of the site. This, along with the restoration of the church, was built with money granted by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2015. The restoration is still ongoing, and the official opening is expected to happen in 2017, with a trial opening in 2016. St Augustine's Interior © Ludmila Griffin The interior restoration of the church is incredible, and brings this model of the Gothic Revival back to Pugin’s original stunning vision. The rood screen from the Lady Chapel and the choir stalls will be moved back to their original positions, exactly as shown in Pugin’s plans. A new altar is to be made and returned to where the plans show it should be at the eastern end of the church; this is the traditional direction for Christians to face when worshipping as the rising sun symbolises the light of the world, Jesus Christ. Within the church there are some points of particular interest such as the Pugin Chantry Chapel where Pugin is buried. There is an effigy of Pugin there which was designed by his eldest son, Edward, who went on to design the Granville Hotel. Edward also built the monastery which the Vincentian Indian Catholics own and run the monastery as a retreat. The Divine Retreat Centre UK is a place for spiritual re-awakening and rest. Another wonderful part of the church is the Augustine Window which tells the story, in beautiful stained glass, of the saint himself, and should not be missed. Neither should the Stations of the Cross which, although put in after Pugin’s 97 death, are astonishing and deserve to be preserved. The church is so important that there was recently a live broadcast there for BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship, and over 1.5 million people listened in. The Pugin Society (www.thepuginsociety) work with The Landmark Trust and the Friends of St Augustine in order to make Pugin better known to the general public. With such a legacy of architecture and design behind him, it shouldn’t take long for his name to be recognised across the world. As part of this bid to share Pugin with everyone, there is a Pugin town trail in Ramsgate. This selfguided walk takes you from the Eastcliff to the Westcliff, and points out all the Pugin designed architecture that can be seen in the town. For further information about Thanet and all that goes on there, please visit www.visitthanet.co.uk.