St Edward’s Presbytery in Ramsgate is one of the latest properties to be added to Landmark Trust’s portfolio. It’s restoration featured in the 2015 Channel4 TV series Restoring Britain’s Landmarks. Just before my Amsterdam trip I celebrated my birthday with a stay there. My sister joined me and we spent 4 nights relaxing by the log fire in the evenings and taking walks and making very local visits during the days. The furthest we drove was 5 miles to Margate and back.
I’ve written about my encounters with Augustus Pugin here and here already. His designs and architectural style are generally what I would call Over The Top. However, the Presbytery was designed in a more restrained style as would befit the lifestyle of the Catholic priests who would live here. The house was just one part of Pugin’s vision for a perfect community in Ramsgate where he and his large family could live and which included a church and his own home next door, The Grange.
“St Edward’s Presbytery was built by Augustus Welby Pugin in 1850, and formed part of this great architect’s original conception for his site on the West Cliffs in Ramsgate.
Pugin’s vision for Ramsgate was to create a perfect community here: a home for his own large family – The Grange; a magnificent new Catholic church – St Augustines; and between the two, a house for the priest who would mediate between the divine and secular worlds – St Edward’s Presbytery.
The boldness of this enterprise, when Catholicism had been illegal in England for centuries, and the process of Catholic emancipation was still underway, was remarkable. With anti-Catholic riots in Ramsgate and many other towns in the early 1850s, Pugin’s priest’s house had no ground floor windows on the street and a sturdy front door, for good reason. Building a presbytery on an English town street was brave as well as ambitious.
St Edward’s Presbytery was bound up closely in the tragedy of Pugin’s last years. From his beginnings as a stage carpenter at Covent Garden, his career had been a whirlwind. He married his third wife Jane in his mid-30s, and for the following three years was simultaneously finishing the House of Commons, designing the Gothic Court for the Great Exhibition and building St Edward’s Presbytery. The pressure bore down on him and in 1852 he was declared insane and confined in Bethlehem Hospital – Bedlam. Jane brought him back to Ramsgate, tired and troubled, and here he died, aged just 40.
Jane lived on at Ramsgate, moving into St Edward’s Presbytery herself, from where her step-son Edward Pugin continued his father’s architectural practice. When The Grange suffered a serious fire in 1904, newspaper reports reveal that Jane, by now in her late 70s, was fortuitously resident in The Presbytery. We believe the datestones 1827 and 1909 at the rear entrance record her lifespan, lived mostly at this site. Her son, Cuthbert also lived out his life here, dying in 1928.” (Landmark Trust website)
There is always a warm welcome on arriving at a Landmark
The Entrance to the Presbytery on St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate
The door into the Presbytery is on the right
Enclosure behind the Presbytery for Quiet Contemplation … in Summer
The huge dresser in the dining room
The Cosy Sitting Room
Last but not Least the Log Fire