Monday, 31 December 2012

AWN Pugin & S' Augustine's Church Ramsgate

Saint Augustine's Church, Ramsgate
Photograph: Fr Tim Finnigan.
Commenced in 1845, Saint Augustine's church, Ramsgate was not intended as a Parish church, but was designed as a personal chapel adjacent to the residence of the Pugin family. Pugin and members of his family are buried in a crypt beneath the church. More can be read about the history of Saint Augustine's at this webpage.

Almost everything of this building was designed by Pugin himself, including the vestments. In the 1970s, however, a decision was taken to give the large collection of vestments and paraments into the care of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

The Friends of Saint Augustine was established in 2010 to support the restoration and repair of Saint Augustine's church (and its associated buildings) and to promote greater awareness of its architectural and historical importance.

In conjunction with the Friends of Saint Augustine, the Saint Bede Studio is organising a SPECIAL APPEAL to provide - over a period of years - new vestments in the Puginesque style for Saint Augustine's church. Wherever possible, these new vestments will be similar to the original Pugin vestments, now in the V & A Museum. The first design is shewn adjacent and is derived from two different original Pugin vestments.

Are you an admirer of Pugin and his work?  If so, this is your opportunity to make a donation to the church which was his last great work and his place of earthly rest.  If you are interested in making a donation to this Project, or to obtain further information, please contact us by e-mail, using the subject line Ramsgate Vestments Appeal.

When sufficient funds have been subscribed to cover costs, the vestment will be made up by the Studio for presentation to Saint Augustine's.  Please note: the sole beneficiary of this appeal will be Saint Augustine's Church, Ramsgate and not the Saint Bede Studio.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Bicentenary of Pugin's birth 1812 - 2012


The only known photograph of
AWN Pugin 1812 - 1852.
Two hundred years ago was born one of the most important figures in the history of architecture and the decorative arts: Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.  

The son of the French √©migr√© Augustus Charles Pugin (who himself was an architectural draughtsman and topographical watercolourist), AWN Pugin is arguably the greatest British architect, designer and writer of the nineteenth century.  Pugin was responsible for an enormous quantity of buildings, and also for countless beautiful designs for tiles, sacred vestments and paraments, metalwork, furniture, wallpaper, stained glass and ceramics.  Some of his best known work includes the magnificent interiors of the Houses of Parliament, the church of St Giles, Cheadle, in Staffordshire, and his own house, The Grange, in Ramsgate (Kent), together with the nearby church of St Augustine, which he built and paid for himself and where he is buried.

Through his buildings, designs, and particularly his forceful and witty writings, such as Contrasts (1836) and the True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841), he made people think in a new way about what architecture was.   Pugin taught that only a caring and "good" society can raise buildings that are truly honest and beautiful.  For him, Gothic architecture was the greatest style of building, and therefore the Middle Ages, the period in which these buildings were conceived, must be the closest man can get to a perfect society.  Pugin's beliefs and ideas have implications beyond his own immediate preferences, and so for many reasons he was, and is, therefore, hugely influential, both on other architects and designers of the Gothic Revival throughout the Victorian era and also on many subsequent architects, theorists and writers.

The above paragraphs were adapted from the website of The Pugin Society:


Below are some other links descriptive of Pugin and his work:



Thursday, 27 December 2012

Vestments for Christmastide

The Saint Bede Studio recently completed this set of vestments which is especially intended for use in Christmastide.

A chasuble made from ivory ecclesiastical brocade has been especially ornamented with the familiar Y-shaped orphrey, but formed from a Puginesque braid in colours of blue, red and gold.  The chasuble is shewn adjacent with an amice apparel.

Although the colours of this braid are reminiscent of those traditionally associated with the Blessed Virgin, the use of the monogram IHS on the orphrey braid also relate it to Christ.

This braid is one of several new designs produced by the Studio to mark this Bicentenary year of the birth of AWN Pugin.  Further braids will be illustrated in the coming months.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

A Blessed Christmas

To all friends, customers and readers of this Blog, sincere wishes for a Blessed Christmas.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill be made low; the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain; and the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.
Isaiah 40:4-5.

Michael Sternbeck
The Saint Bede Studio.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Sarum Vestments for Advent

The Saint Bede Studio received a special commission from the Church of S' Birinus in Oxfordshire (UK) to make a set of vestments for Advent.  S' Birinus has adopted various usages from the Sarum Rite for their celebrations of the Ordinary Form.

Adjacent photographs of the church shew the altar (arranged for ad orientem celebrations) in a small English chancel behind a beautiful rood screen.  This screen has been enriched in recent years with gilding and polychrome work and surmounted by a beautiful Rood Group of the Crucified with the Blessed Virgin and Saint John.


The Church of S' Birinus, Oxfordshire.
Photograph: Fr Lawrence Lew OP


The vestments were made from a lovely English ecclesiastical brocade, in two tones of blue, ornamented with a narrow braid in colours of Royal blue, gold, red and white.  This braid, in the early Gothic style, was designed by the Saint Bede Studio to coincide with the Pugin bicentenary year.  It will be noticed that the chasuble is in the semi-conical style.  When wearing the chasuble, it folds up from the bottom, horizontally, rather than in the vertical drapes of a standard ample chasuble.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com



The Church of S' Birinus, Oxfordshire
Photograph: GothPhil (Flickr).

Friday, 21 December 2012

When in Rome...

Amidst the varied glories, the venerable Basilica of Saint Clement, with its golden mosaics, splendid civory and wonderful Cosmati pavement.


Thursday, 20 December 2012

Vestments for a Newly-Ordained


The Saint Bede Studio received a commission from a young priest, ordained this year for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, to make a set of Festal vestments in the S' Philip Neri style. The vestments were made from a silk damask in a muted shade of gold and were ornamented with another silk damask in coppery-gold. A lining in burgundy-red complemented the vestments perfectly.

Father Cooper, having received the vestments, very kindly wrote to us and we are pleased to include here an excerpt from his letter:

The Sacred Liturgy celebrated properly and well (with reverence, artistic grace, and making use of the most appropriate vessels and vestments) places us, interiorly, in a disposition to offer fitting and true worship to God and to be inspired with a spirit of humble adoration and contrition thereby creating a fertile ground for prayer and penance. The vessels and vestments used for the Eucharistic celebration should always arouse wonder in the presence of the beauty that leads one's whole being to adore the glory of the Lord. Your craftsmanship of chasubles and other liturgical vestments truly aids in magnifying the mystery and wonder of the Eucharist – an artistry that gives glory, laud and honour to Jesus Christ, our Lord and God.

I want to take a moment to extend my humble gratitude and sincere appreciation to you, who employed reverent dedication and artistic skill in handcrafting my St. Philip Neri vestments. The workmanship and quality are outstanding, a true work of liturgical art and a profound labour of love. It will be a tremendous joy to employ this sacred vestment on the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. Words can never express how this sacred vestment enriches the beauty of the Eucharist Sacrifice. Be assured, that each time I celebrate the Mass with this vestment, I will fondly remember you and your commitment to maintaining the beauty and majesty of the Sacred Liturgy.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries:  stbede62@gmail.com


Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Subject was Roses

Twice a year, the Church breaks the tone of its penitential seasons by the use of rose-coloured vestments.  Rose-coloured vestments were never commonplace and they still are not.  Nevertheless, you will find various pronouncements these days (usually on websites) about what the real or authentic shade of rose is which is to be used for vestments.

Newsflash: there is no official shade of Rose designated by the Church, nor has there ever been.  The reason for this is rather simple: only in the last century did the process of dyeing fabric become sufficiently sophisticated to ensure that much the same shade of a colour emerged from one batch of fabric dyeing to another.  Previous to that, dyes were derived from plants etc., made up with a great deal of labour.

Many different colours have been deemed by the Church as acceptable as liturgical rose.  Some of these are a salmon shade; some a silvery-pink, almost mushroom-colour; some close to what we would call Bishop's purple or fuchsia; and some red with overtones of gold.

Another thing is certain: Bubblegum Pink is not Rose, nor has it been a traditional variation for use on these days.   Whilst not intending to get into the argument as to whether the use of a such a vibrant pink is a fitting colour for a man to wear,  "Bubblegum Pink" certainly manifests a lamentable lack of liturgical good taste.  Sadly, pink-coloured vestments, purporting to be Rose, are becoming increasingly commonplace and now even appear at Papal Masses.

At an old post on the Blog, The New Liturgical Movement, we find a number of interesting vestments in that shade of rose commonly found in Italy in centuries past: a reddish colour with overtones of silver.  Go there and take a look.  The same article also shews the considerable variety of older rose-coloured vestments, in use throughout Europe.  Often, embroidered flowers on such vestments was a device used to enhance the "rosiness" of the vestment.

This week, we feature a new vestment (see above) more in the Baroque tradition.  It is made from a silk damask of a shade between crimson and copper, but also interwoven with a subdued gold thread.  As a result, such a vestment looks more rose in some lights, more golden in others.  The orphrey of this chasuble is formed from a dupion silk in a complementary shade of rose, likewise the lining.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries:  stbede62@gmail.com

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Violet vestments in 16th century style

The Saint Bede Studio recently completed the vestments shewn in the adjacent photographs for a young priest in the Diocese of Richmond, a returning customer. This chasuble is in the style commonly known as Saint Philip Neri, typical of the 16th century, although less ample than the measurements set down by S' Charles Borromeo.

Although there are many different shades used for Lenten and Advent vestments (none of which has a claim to being the correct colour), nevertheless, this particular shade of violet is closer to what was used during the mediaeval period and through until the 19th century.  It is a subdued colour, but not dark, closer to the shade of the flowers Violets. 

Instead of the ubiquitous treatment of gold ornament, these vestments are ornamented with galloons of a silver-grey and are lined in the same colour. The vestments are ornamented in the Roman manner.

Matching the chasuble is a cope, whose orphrey is also formed with outlining braids in silver-grey.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com


Saturday, 8 December 2012

On Our Lady's Feast

Early this year, the Studio completed a commission for vestments of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  These were made for a priest in an Italian Diocese, who particularly wished for vestments in the Borromeon style.  The vestments were made from a magnificent English silk damask, ivory coloured.  They were ornamented with a damask in peacock blue and silver, outlined with a silver-coloured narrow galloon. The vestments were lined with dupion silk in a shade to match the orphrey.

We are pleased also to include a photograph, shewn below,  of the chasuble being used in the Celebration of Mass.

Greetings to all readers on this Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Please click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com




Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Purple Saint Martin Vestments

The Saint Bede Studio recently completed a set of vestments for a newly-ordained priest of the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Canada.

These were vestments in the Saint Martin style: very ample.  The vestments were made from a purple ecclesiastical brocade and simply ornamented with a narrow braid in colours of Royal Blue, red, gold and white. This is is a new braid designed by and made for the Studio.

Our young priest wrote this appreciation of the vestments:

The vestment is just what I was looking for: simple, to respect the penitential character of Advent and Lent, but at the same time, with the beautiful braid in the centre, a hint of the Hope that is to come at the end of the penitential season.  

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

Enquiries: stbede62@gmail.com





Monday, 3 December 2012

December Newsletter

The December Newsletter has now been sent to all customers and past enquirers of the Studio.  If you are a reader of this Blog and would like to receive a copy of the Newsletter, please contact us .

This newsletter contains the important announcement of a Special Appeal to seek donations for new vestments for Pugin's church, Saint Augustine's Ramsgate (UK).

This Appeal will be the subject of a future post on this Blog.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

What colour vestments should be worn during Advent?

I often read here and there vigorous assertions about the "correct" colour of vestments to be used during Lent and Advent.  Curious as to the history of these colours in Liturgical use,  I researched and posted an article a few years ago on this Blog about use of penitential colours for the Seasons of Advent, Lent &c.  If you have wondered what colour the Church recommends for these Seasons, you will find the article illuminating.  That post may be read here and here, so I don't intend to rehearse its findings. 

Instead, always most interesting, an historic work of art to illustrate the practice of our forebears. This work (adjacent) was painted by an artist known as the Master of Osservanza in the year 1440 and depicts a Low Mass being offered at a side chapel in the Siena Cathedral (Italy).

Some observations. The chasuble being worn by the celebrant is violet: in other words, much the same colour as the flower "violets". It is a blue-ish colour, not purple and it is not too dark either. The chasuble is the full conical shape and is ornamented with a simple column-orphrey of dark fabric (possibly even black). Most likely, the front of the chasuble would have been decorated with the familiar "tau". The celebrant is wearing decorative apparels on his alb and amice, which match the colour of the chasuble's ornament. That is a very typical practice of the Mediaeval period. Note, too, the very full folds of the alb.

We see, also, that the boy assisting the celebrant is wearing a full-length surplice, according to the style typically found in Renaissance Italy. Those who claim that such surplices are "Church of England" practice should note this well.

Lastly, the altar itself. It is clothed in a dark antependium or altar frontal, ornamented with scarlet red. On the altar is a Crucifix and a single candle. Although it may seem peculiar that there is but a single candle instead of a pair, it might be remarked that not until the 16th century was it a usual practice to have a pair of candlesticks on an altar.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.