Pugin’s Staffordshire Gems

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812 – 1852) was a prolific architect of the Victorian age. In fact he burned himself out through over work and died at the age of 41 having designed not only the exteriors but also the furnishings and fittings of  countless churches not only in England, but also in Ireland and Australia. He converted to Catholicism and most of his ornate designs are for Roman Catholic churches and cathedrals. There is a long list of his architectural achievements at the end of his Wikipedia entry here. He is most notably connected with the building of the present Palace of Westminster.

Pugin died in Ramsgate at his home The Grange which is now a Landmark Trust holiday property. The Trust is currently renovating the neighbouring  St Edward’s Presbytery. The Channel 4 series mentioned in yesterday’s post visited SEP in programme 5.


It is available for 23 days from today (18 November 2015)

Last year we visited St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham a Pugin masterpiece and we continued our trail at the weekend visiting his St John’s, Alton designed and built in 1840 as part of the Alton Castle community and St Giles, Cheadle, “Pugin’s Gem”, commissioned by the Earl of Shrewsbury (Alton Towers).

Ramblers' Retreat

After our visit to Alton Station and lunch at The Ramblers’ Retreat tea room in nearby Dimmingsdale we drove up to Alton village with its Castle, now a residential centre for young people owned and run by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham, church and related buildings designed by Pugin in the late 1840s.

The Castle

Alton Castle

Alton Castle

Alton Castle from Alton Station

Alton church

The Alton Church Altar

church 2

Looking back down the Nave at Alton Church

On Saturday we drove from our holiday cottage in the Manifold Valley (Peak District) to Cheadle where Pugin’s Gem – St Giles RC Church – is the town’s centrepiece. Simon Jenkins awards it 5 stars and calls it “Pugin’s complete 13th-century recreation”.  The dark sandstone spire can be seen from miles around but was very difficult to photograph from close-up. We paid a visit afterwards to Lulworth House where there’s a Pugin and Hardman Room and from there I was able to snap the full church spire.


 church doors

St Giles Church Doors Represent part of the Earl of Shrewsbury’s Coat of Arms

st giles tiles

Tiled steps in the chancel

st giles altar

The Alabaster Altar carved by Thomas Roddis


The Pulpit hewn from a single block and carved by Thomas Roddis


The East Window


The Blessed Sacrament Chapel

pulpit and chapel

The Lady Chapel with 15th century oak triptych


Alabaster Font in the Baptistry

st giles flowers


6 comments on “Pugin’s Staffordshire Gems

  1. nilly says:

    Oh – this is fantastic! More Pugin slightly bonkers beauty to explore – such a pity that we aren’t in the Alton area very often (we’re too old for Alton Towers!) The Channel 4 programme is a real treat too – I’d love John Evetts’ job.

  2. Fran says:

    Love Pugin! BBC programme from 2012 is available for next 2 weeks on iPlayer

  3. […] Peter’s Church has been awarded 3 stars by Simon Jenkins in his ‘England’s 1000 best churches‘. It is built of the local pale brown Bargate sandstone typical of this part of Surrey and […]

  4. […] written about my encounters with Augustus Pugin here and here already. His designs and architectural style are generally what I would call Over The […]

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