Augustus W. Pugin (executed by William Wailes)
The chapel in The Grange, Ramsgate
Photograph and text 2010 by Jacqueline Banerjee.
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"The private chapel, liturgically correctly placed at the east end of the house, was at once an echo of the Middle Ages and a bold and radical statement of the family's catholic faith," writes Caroline Stanford (31). Its two stained glass windows, the east or altar window, and the south window, are a charming reflection of this blend of religious, historical and domestic sympathies, with the lower parts of each light showing Pugin and his family kneeling beneath representations of the appropriate saints. In the cases of Pugin himself, and his sons, the saints are their own name-saints, that is to say, Augustus Pugin kneels beneath St Augustine in the east window, and his sons Edward and Cuthbert kneel beneath St Edward the Confessor and St Cuthbert respectively in the south window. Beside Pugin in the east window, his second wife Louisa kneels with their daughters Agnes and Catherine, and her stepdaughter Anne from Pugin's first marriage to Anne Garnet. Sadly, Louisa died in 1843, before The Grange was completed, so of course never lived there.
Left to right: (a) The whole window, showing its colourful surround, and the figures of St George and two angels above the main lights. (b) Pugin kneels below St Augustine, facing his wife and daughters. (c) Louisa, her step-daughter Anne, and her daughters Agnes and Catherine. [Click on these and following thumbnails for larger images.]
Left to right: (a) South window in the chapel. (b) Edward Pugin (beneath Edward the Confessor). (c) Cuthbert Pugin (beneath St Cuthbert).
The chapel was far from being a show-piece. It was the very heart of the house and the centre of family life. Pugin engaged an Italian priest, Luigi Acquarone, as a chaplain as well as a tutor for Edward, and Acquarone celebrated the first Mass for the family before Christmas 1844. After that, the household was regularly gathered together here. "The little oratory was warm, intimate and dark," says Rosemary Hill, explaining how the family's portraits in the stained glass built "the personal narrative" into the architecture. "Each day before dawn young Edward toured the house with a bell, waking the inhabitants. Throughout the day, more bells rang to announce the offices. There were prayers eight in the morning and Compline at eight at night" (Hill 326). The young John Hardman Powell, who became part of the household, recalled Pugin reciting Compline "in Cassock and Surplice, followed by the De Profundis, but too rapidly for a stranger to respond to readily" (13), giving an idea of both Pugin's religious fervour and his restless energy.
Hill, Rosemary. God's Architect: Pugin and the Making of Romantic Britain. London: Penguin, 2008.
Powell, John Hardman. Pugin in His Home: Two Memoirs by John Hardman Powell. Ed. Alexandra Wedgwood. New enlarged edition. Ramsgate: The Pugin Society, 2006.
Stanford, Caroline. The Grange. Maidenhead: The Landmark Trust, 2008.
Last modified 24 September 2010