25/11/2011 9:30 am
A campaign to save Augustus Welby Pugin's personal church of St Augustine's Ramsgate, has been launched at the House of Lords.
Baroness D'Souza, the Lord Speaker, invited the Friends of St Augustine to speak of their church rescue project and emphasised the direct link between Pugin, who is buried at St Augustine's, and the New Palaces of Westminster which he had largely designed from Ramsgate.
The Friends hope that the church, which was in danger of being closed down, can be saved in 2012, the bicentenary year of Pugin's birth. Many MPs, heritage experts and ecclesiastical dignitaries, including Archbishop Peter Smith and Bishop John Hine, were present at the launch. Alastair Stewart of ITV news spoke of his personal love of the church with many reminiscences and urged people to get behind the restoration project.
Fr Marcus Holden, chairman of the Friends of St Augustine, said:
"We cannot overestimate the importance of this church. If Pugin is one the greatest ecclesiastical architects of modern English history, and St Augustine's is his personal ideal church, then this site is of vast importance. It is significant at so many levels: spiritually it's the monument of St Augustine's landing, historically it's a centre piece of the 19th century Catholic revival, architecturally it's Pugin's masterpiece and artistically it's full of his best. I'm delighted that St Augustine's is now being recognised for what it is and preserved for future generations. It has been extremely encouraging to see how people both locally and nationally, from different backgrounds and with a variety of expertise, have come together in this project. We have turned a corner in the path of rescuing the church but there is a long way to go and much help is needed"
Information about the Friends of St Augustine can be found here: augustinefriends.co.uk