St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate, Kent CT11
One of the most important buildings of the 19th-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 1843-44. As soon as it was finished he embarked on the building at his own expense a Catholic 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. 12 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 Diocese. The Grange has been carefully restored by the Landmark Trust for holiday lets.
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).
Architect: A. W. N. Pugin
Original Date: 1845
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: I