Town mouse celebrates Pugin

The 200th birthday of A. W. N. Pugin was celebrated in fine style on March 1, with a mass in St Augustine’s, Ramsgate. This was the church that Pugin built beside his home, The Grange: not a bad effort, considering he died at 40 and had to finance the project with his architectural earnings. With the accompanying monastery, this Catholic convert hoped to demonstrate what England might have been like if only Henry VIII had not broken with Rome.

It was a Tridentine Mass. I lost count of the number of priests. I certainly lost my place in the service sheet, being unaccustomed to following such an elaborate liturgy. Because of the enthusiasm of the present Pope, the Tridentine Mass has been officially revived; although few people now know how to do it, I was told that it’s particularly popular among younger priests.

How Pugin would have loved the music, the ritual and the vestments-one of which, a copy of a Pugin design, has just been given to the church by an Australian needleworker. When the spring sunshine, coming through the stained-glass windows, turned a corner of stonework to rubies and emeralds, I felt his spirit was with us. One of the two Gospel readings was, aptly, the Parable of the Talents: Pugin made good use of his.