Monday, 26 January 2015
Pegwell Bay, Vespers and the new Schola Augustini
The number of fast trains from St Pancras to Margate was doubled shortly after Christmas to two each hour, each taking only an hour and a half. This will help to increase the number of visitors as well as those who realise that it is possible to commute to London and work on the train.
Quite a few priests find their way down here on days off, and the attraction of the Shrine of St Augustine at Ramsgate brings many lay Catholics. Of course the senior Catholic parish here at Margate needs to be better known as well ;-)
Last weekend was one of those on which many things and people came together. The new Schola Sancti Augustini, directed by Tom Neal is formed of local volunteers who wish to learn and sing Gregorian Chant. They plan to sing Vespers once a month at the Shrine of St Augustine and yesterday was the first occasion. Above you can see Fr Holden, the Rector of the Shrine, incensing the altar during the Magnificat. The Church, if you don't already know, was AW Pugin's own "ideal Church" and is being restored in pristinam formam with help from the Friends of St Augustine and a grant from English Heritage for this gem of Christian art and architecture.
Vespers was followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
After the morning Masses at the (also extremely beautiful and historically significant and architecturally spendid) Church of St Austin and Gregory in Margate, there was time for a little trip to a part of Thanet I had not yet visited: Cliffsend overlooking Pegwell Bay. The Belle Vue Tavern dates back to 1720 and has a glorious view over the Bay. Yesterday I'm afraid the photos captured a leaden grey sky, and coats and scarves were needed for venturing onto the terrace. But it is easy to imagine how delightful it would be on a warm and sunny day. The incumbents Tony and Shirley Pearson are welcoming and friendly, the food is excellent, and real beer is on tap.