St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate, Kent CT11
Image copyright Alex Ramsay
Image copyright Alex Ramsay
One of the most important buildings of the nineteenth-century Gothic Revival in England, designed and paid for by the architect Augustus Pugin, whose books including ‘Contrasts’ (1836) and ‘True Principles’ (1840) were extremely influential in the formation and adoption of the style. In this building, almost alone among his churches, Pugin was able to realise his vision of revived Gothic as the true Christian architectural style. The church contains Pugin’s own tomb. There are later additions by E.W. Pugin and P. P. Pugin. The church forms part of an important historic group with The Grange, Pugin’s own house, and E.W. Pugin’s Abbey buildings (on the opposite side of the road, connected by an underground passage).
Pugin built The Grange, a house for himself on the cliff top at Ramsgate, in 1843-4. As soon as it was finished he embarked on the building at his own expense a church which would embody all his ideas about architectural design in the Gothic style. The church was not intended to be a private chapel (Pugin had one in The Grange), and was attended by seamen, fishermen, and curious visitors and tourists taking the waters in Ramsgate. The church is estimated to have cost Pugin about £20,000 by the time of his death in 1852, and even then it was not finished; the intended spire over the central crossing was never built. Pugin’s own chantry chapel lies off the south aisle; his effigy is by his son Edward Welby Pugin, one of his first independent designs. The altar in the chapel was originally in A. W. Pugin’s private chapel in the house; it was moved here in the 1930s. Twelve members of the Pugin family are buried in the vault beneath the chantry, and others in the churchyard. After Pugin’s death the church was given to the Bishop of Southwark, who passed it on to the Benedictine order, which erected abbey buildings and later a school on the other side of the road, from designs by E W Pugin and (later) P. P. Pugin.
The cloister on the north side of the church was built mainly at the expense of the Catholic convert and religious writer Kenelm Digby, and was completed in 1860, from designs by E. W. Pugin (this contains the Digby chantry).
In 1970 the church was controversially reordered, with Pugin’s chancel rood screen relocated to the Lady Chapel, the choir stalls moved to the east wall to form a retrochoir, the high altar dismantled (although the tabernacle and throne went to Southwark Anglican Cathedral, where they sit today in the Harvard Chapel) and the white marble nave pulpit, an addition of 1869, removed.
The church has recently been returned to the Archdiocese of Southwark and repaired and restored with grant aid. The works have included the reinstatement of Pugin’s rood screen at the chancel arch. The Grange has been carefully restored by the Landmark Trust for holiday lets.
Text amended 7.12.2020
Church with cloisters attached. 1845-51 by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin for his self, later additions by Edward Welby Pugin and Peter Paul Pugin (1858 and 97) 1884. Knapped flint with Whitby stone dressings. Fish slated tiled roofs. Two bay nave and south aisle, crossing and south transept; two bay chancel and south chancel aisle. English Decorated style. Nave has 4 light west window, south aisle with two 2 light windows, 4 light transept and two 2 light south chancel aisle windows, 4 light east chancel window. South porch against south transept. Steeply pitched roofs with quatrefoil ventilation openings. Crossing tower carried up to bell stage only has 2 lancets to each face.
Interior, sandstone ashlar of high quality, oak roofs panelled in chancel and chancel aisle. Two bay Decorated style arcade 4 arches from crossing, intended to be dominated by the Rood screen, removed from High Altar and later pulpit c. 1972. Nave benches and chancel stalls, now returned on site of High Altar. Crucifix by Pugin with medieval figure re-erected against crossing pier. Stone font with elaborate wooden cover in south aisle by Pugin, made by Myers, exhibited 1857. Pugin chantry in south transept has oak parclose screen, stone altar, Pugin’s tomb with recumbent effigy and kneeling family mourners. Window above with Pugin as donor of church and his 2 pre-deceased wives. Family brasses. South chancel Lady Chapel with stone altar and c.1862 metal screen by John Hardman Powell, Pugin’s chancel rood screen re-erected around-altar. Much early Hardman and Co. glass, designed by Pugin. Minton tessellated floor tiles throughout.
Single storey west range of cloister with gabled entrance from road, with double boarded doors in moulded arched surround with figurative sculpture over. North cloister range with 4 light traceried window and door below, and 2 stage tower with lead spirelet, forming the original church of 1847. East range of cloister beyond has substantial 2 storey range of uncertain original purpose. Within cloister 2 chapels by Peter Paul Pugin, one by Edward Welby Pugin (1859) given by Kenelm Digby, author of Mores Catolici. Church built by Pugin with his annual professional fees, reputedly up to £20,000 Left on his death in 1852 to R.C. diocese of Southwark, and from 1856 used by Benedictine monks of St. Augustine’s Abbey (connected by tunnel below St. Augustine’s Road). Consecrated 1884. Pugin’s favourite and most personal building, containing show work by his usual collaborates, George Myers, John Hardman and Herbert Minton, with further work by his sons. (See St. Augustine’s Guide; see also B.O.E. Kent II 1983, 421-4).
Listing NGR: TR3764264312
St Augustine’s Abbey
Monastery. 1860-61 by Edward Welby Pugin, extended 1904 by Peter Paul Pugin and 1926, attributed Charles Winmill. All executed in black knapped flint with polychrome brick and stone dressings with banded tile roofs. Cross-shaped plan with library block set off to west, all in reasonably consistent Victorian “Reformed Gothic” style. Left hand Open court (Edward Welby Pugin) of 2 storeys, with single storey closed cloister on western block. Variety of window types under ventilated. brick or stone lancet or plate glass sashes or casements. Prominent plate tracery surrounds and large external stack with entrance through base in centre of central wing, west face. Half dormer first floor windows, some with surviving original plate glass sashes, some recent inappropriate replacement windows. Formerly prominent ridge stacks partly cut down. Three storey east wing by Peter Paul Pugin, still High Victorian in style. Late-C20 single storey wing connects to Bergh Memorial Library, 1926 and attributed to Charles Winmill, in a more Perpendicular style of Gothic. The abbey was built on land purchased 1847 by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, and with the benefaction of Mr. Alfred Luck. British Monks invited to take over St. Augustine’s Church and found monastery 1856 from Subiaco, Italy. The first English Abbey so designated since the Reformation. Wall. Flint and banded brick with brick buttresses, about 8 feet high, carried along the entire frontage to St. Augustine’s Road (and returned to east of Abbey) and to Grange Road, with gate piers with pinnacles at east end, gabled and buttressed gateway with boarded door to single storey wing projecting west of Abbey central block, and hipped gate to Grange Road with side gate and arched wooden carriage gates. (See Guide to St. Augustine’s Abbey).
Listing NGR: TR3764064388
House with chapel attached. 1843-4 by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin for himself, later alterations and additions by Edward Welby Pugin. Gault brick with black brick bands, stone dressings and slate roofs. Two storeys with attics. Irregular and picturesquely massed facades, illustrating Pugin’s belief in expression of plan and function on elevation. Tripartite garden front has crest returned gable with 2 storey canted bow with casement windows, 2 light attic basement. Centre with 2 ground floor case windows, one first floor single and one 3 light window. Ground floor plinth, first floor string, simple boarded eaves and verges to gables. One 3 light dormer, one ridge stack. Three storey rectangular tower at east with battlemented parapet, single storey hipped roof projecting chapel beyond with one 2 light south and one 2 light west window. Projecting gable at west, addition by Edward Welby Pugin, forming his business room with external access. Plinth of dismantled conservatory. Highly irregular north front with glazed entrance corridor projection by Edward Welby Pugin replacing that at right angles to west connecting with original wicket gate entrance. Service wing at north west heightened by Edward Welby Pugin. Interior: hall with off-axis fireplace, stairs and gallery. Dining room with carved fireplace with brackets supporting large bresummer beam forming inglenook, a reference to the medieval hall-house plan. Two reception rooms with stencilled ceilings with mottoes and heraldry, 2 Pugin fireplaces, one with outer colonnette additions by Edward Welby Pugin, one with monograms and saints’ emblems of the children. Chapel has early Minton tiles and Wailes glass with family portraits and patron saints. The house occupies a crucial place in the development of C19 domestic architecture, in planning and style (See BOE, Kent I, 1983 424-5; Dixon and Muthesius, Victorian Architecture, 48-9; St Augustine’s Guide).
Listing NGR: TR3764264312
Architect: A. W. N. Pugin
Original Date: 1845
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade I