Kent

Augustus Pugin's 200th anniversary marked in Ramsgate

The architectural genius who designed Big Ben's clock tower has been remembered in a special mass in the Kent town where he lived and died.

The service in Ramsgate marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.

Pugin designed, built and paid for St Augustine's Church where the service was held and where he is buried.

Speaking earlier Parish priest Fr Marcus Holden said: "We have a big celebration for Pugin's bicentenary.

"We've got people coming from all over the country. We are going to have a high mass which was the mass that Pugin knew and loved."

'A living church'

Pugin is hailed as one of the greatest British architects, designers and writers of the 19th Century and is mainly remembered for his pioneering role in bringing back a revival of the medieval gothic style of architecture.

As well as designing the Big Ben clock tower, he also worked on the designs for the interiors of the Houses of Parliament.

Fr Holden said: "Pugin was very much a purist regarding Gothic, he wanted to recreate the architectural virtues of the Middle Ages.

"Things weren't simply decorative for the eye but they really worked, they fulfilled their function but did so with great beauty."

Image caption Pugin called St Augustine's church in Ramsgate his own child

Fr Holden said Pugin loved Ramsgate because it was his favourite Victorian holiday resort but also for reasons of faith.

"He had a romantic notion of the origins of English Christianity and St Augustine landed nearby on the coast of Ramsgate.

"Pugin wanted to move here, build his house here for that reason, and build a church to Augustine. He saw this as really important for the identity of the English nation."

The building of St Augustine's Church just across the road from his home was one of the most important pieces of work in Pugin's life.

"He called it his own child," said Fr Holden.

"It was for him not just a folly or artistic expression, he wanted it to be a living church for the people of Ramsgate a kind of beacon of the Gothic revival of a return to medievalism."

Pugin died in Ramsgate on 14 September 1852, at the age of 40. During the celebratory service a wreath was laid on the tomb where Pugin's body still lies.

Fr Holden said: "The fact that Pugin is there in the church that he loved and designed and had no constraints from patrons in making is very important to the area and it draws people here."

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