The annual Ramsgate celebration of St Augustine of England, who landed near Ramsgate in AD 597, runs 26th May – 4th June. The festival features talks, children’s activities, a concert, music workshop, religious services, tours, a coach trip, and more.
Following a £1.2 million Heritage Lottery Funded restoration, the week marks the first unveiling of the new-look restored interior of St Augustine’s. The new Visitor Centre has been partially open since April and will now be completely open.
The Week is free, with donations welcome. Visitors are welcome to attend as many or as few events as they wish throughout the Week.
The Grand Re-opening
of St Augustine’s will take place on 3rd June at 5pm. This will be led by the Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith, and Bishop Paul Mason with a service of blessing and Vespers. Local choirs, St Ethelbert’s Primary School, and community groups associated with St Augustine’s will take part. This marks the start of the re-use of St Augustine’s following restoration. Afterwards there will be a celebratory reception
in the gardens of the Divine Retreat Centre, across the road from St Augustine’s.
The Blessing of the Sea
will take place on Bank Holiday Monday 29th May at 2.30pm, starting at the Obelisk at Ramsgate Royal Harbour. This event is for the whole community, celebrating Ramsgate’s industries and close connections with the sea, and asking God’s blessing on all connected with the sea. The Mayor and others will attend the service. The service will be conducted by Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett, and Australian bishop and Pugin expert.
of the newly-restored St Augustine’s are available on Saturday 27th May (3pm), Monday 29th May (11am and 1pm), and Wednesday 31st May (2pm and 3pm). These are free, with a recommended donation of £4 per person. St Augustine’s is open, though without guided tours, 10am – 4pm each day.
A musical Concert
will be held on 2nd June at 7.30pm, sung by renowned singers, The Victoria Consort. The music will be sung alongside readings from the medieval stories about St Augustine, which have been translated into English for the first time. Tickets cost £10. Before the concert, there is a free Book Launch
event, which will feature a short talk by Fr Jerome Bertram, the translator of the stories.
On 27th May, there will be a special visit of Cardinal Pell
, Finance Minister of the Vatican. This day is St Augustine’s special feast day. It will begin with an outdoor procession on the East Cliff, followed by Mass in the church, celebrated by Cardinal Pell. After the Guided Tours at 3pm, there will be a series of short services to end the day.
A Choral Workshop
will be led by Helen Nattrass and Ian Williams on Sunday 28th May at 3pm. This is a great opportunity to learn and practise the ancient Gregorian Chant style of singing, building up to a public performance during a service at 5.30pm on the same afternoon. All are welcome to join in this choral opportunity.
There are several talks
during the Week. The Augustine Lecture
will be given by Rob Mackintosh
who will talk about the route St Augustine took through France on his way to Thanet in AD 597. On Monday 29th May at 5pm, John Coverdale will talk about the new walking route, The Way of St Augustine
. On Wednesday 31st May at 7.30pm, Fr Marcus Holden will talk about The Story So Far
, about the achievements and activities that have brought about St Augustine’s revival.
The full programme is available online here: augustinefriends.co.uk/?p=5121
John Coverdale, Centre Manager of St Augustine’s, said:
“We’re really looking forward to this week of activities. The new Visitor Centre and the beautiful restoration of ‘Pugin’s gem’ are great places for the local community, as well as visitors to Ramsgate, to feel part of the history and vision we have here. We receive around 10,000 visitors each year, and we hope that the new facilities and the unique look of this site attract even more people.
The whole Week will be fantastic, and we are looking forward to seeing lots of people joining the festivities.
Fr Marcus Holden, Rector of St Augustine’s, said:
“This is a great moment for St Augustine’s, with the visit of Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Peter Smith. Archbishop Peter inaugurated this church as the official shrine of St Augustine in 2012, and we are going from strength to strength. This Week is a great celebration of St Augustine, called by some ‘Ramsgate’s first celebrity’.