Pugin's effigy on his tomb
I went to Ramsgate Abbey yesterday to celebrate the bi-centenary of Augustus Pugin's birth, again a very mixed congregation and again like me the Parish Priest Fr Marcus Holden decided the most "evangelical" rite that would have something to say to those with a deep and profound faith and those with little understanding of it was the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, here again they had quite exquisite music - almost as good our own 150th. Again, Meridian News put an extract on its news.
I actually got into Pugin's House, next door to the Abbey which was delightful and well worth a visit.
view of church and monastery from the roof of the tower of the GrangeThe Abbey Church is looking pretty sad after years of neglect. According to Fr Marcus Pugin was brought into the church the day before he died and said repeatedly, "How beautiful, how beautiful", unfortunately it is not beautiful today, it will be, but repairing and restoring it is a huge task. It puts our own restoration project into perspective and money is slow in coming in. They need £30,000 to match an English Heritage grant pretty urgently, if you can help contact the Friends of St Augustine's. Fr Holden has extraordinary vision of establishing a worthy memorial to Pugin but also fulfilling a Puginesque vision of making the church into a shrine to St Augustine and the coming of Christianity to England, he is a very capable priest, do support him and this project.
In his sermon Fr Marcus said
You see, he did not create dead art or fossilised things to be admired merely as works of interest. This is really important. Everything had a living context. He was there to decorate function, in other words to make the working reality beautiful. The function was the living breathing Christian faith of a medieval variety, the decoration of it is all around you. Not only the stones, but the wood, the glass, the iron, the clay, the silver, the gold, the brass, all decorating and making beautiful the functions of divine worship. In fact worship was to give us a glimpse of heaven. Is it not for that reason that pointed architecture reaches heavenward. People have often asked me, if Pugin believed in function then why are churches so tall and with huge spires or towers, it seems like waste. But what if, what if, the function was to foster transcendence? Then it is absolutely fitting. If churches are to raise our minds and hearts to higher things then the function is there, and he decorates it. He once wrote about his roodscreens, but the same could be said of every item and detail he designed for his churches, ‘The mere inspection of them is nothing…It is when they become associated with the life of divine worship that they produce the full power and lift the soul in ecstasy’.
The sermon can be found here in its entirety, it is all pretty good, and well worth reading or reproducing.