On Wednesday I popped down to the Kentish coastal town of Ramsgate. My first port of call was the Benedictine monastery, which I used to visit regularly when my first cousin once removed (Dom Stephen Holford) was alive. In fact the last time I visited I had gingerly mentioned my possible priestly vocation to him - it was the first time I had mentioned it to anyone. That was about 13 years ago and quite a lot has happened since then! It was good to be back - the monks kindly invited me to lunch and I had a chance to rumage in their wonderfully atmospheric library.
Here the church, designed by the great Pugin - he was proud that it contained not one wrong architectural principal:
Outside, leading down to the sea front, there is a peaceful cemetery. Here is a view looking towards The Grange, with the tomb of two of my great-aunts in the foreground.
The Grange was the home of Augustus Welby Pugin and then his son Edward. It was recently purchased and renovated by the Landmark Trust and open (by apointment) for tours every Wednesday afternoon. If you're looking for a place to stay in Ramsgate, you can rent the whole house and it has room for eight people. In fact, since it boasts a private chapel (complete with a dressed altar) it would be a good place for priests to stay while visiting the south coast. It is a remarkable place - the prototype for so many Victorian houses, with some beautiful stained glass and wallpaper designs. Pugin's flag flies from the tower, with a black crow (his heraldic device).
Pugin is buried in a chantry in the Abbey church (which is normally closed), where I said a Pater and an Ave for the repose of this sometimes troubled soul. Beside the chapel is the beautiful Blessed Sacrament altar, with the rood screen that used to stand before the sanctuary. Unfortunately the rood was ripped out and is now in the Anglican Cathedral at Southwark.