Being given the opportunity to wander freely around the home of one of the world's finest architects isn't an everyday occurrence, so imagine my unbridled joy at having such a chance today. Having recognised our shared passion for outstanding buildings the folk at The Landmark Trust
invited me along to their open day for the press at Pugin's masterful Grange atop Ramsgate's west cliffs.
What absolute delight was in store, gone are all the hasty additions of more recent years, no more lean-to sheds nor blistered maroon paint. The wild meadow appearance of the grounds has been reclaimed as fresh and formal garden, every path crunching underfoot - the gravel so clean as to suggest they wash it daily.
If you've peeked at the Grange from outside the flint walls you may have noticed what a limited view you get. How refreshingly bright to walk around and get a true sense of the design and scale. The exterior is understated with walls of plain yellow brick and simple stone dressing, politefully balanced with a tower, where Pugin used to keep an eye out for ships in trouble, and an oratory on the south-east corner. It sits slightly askew to it's plot, probably to make the most of the rising sun, and fits perfectly as if it were glove upon hand.
The interior is breathtaking, entered through a long glazed porch with a mix of principle and hammerbeam rafters. This was an addition by E.W. Pugin, who was responsible for finishing and extending his father's work. The main hall has a grand staircase which rises along two brightly papered walls to a balcony above, doorways and passages aplenty lead to quite incredible rooms accurately decorated and furnished. Dürer woodcut prints hang on walls while tin jugs sit on tables suggesting far more than a dedicated eye for detail, rather a hint of time travel and half an expectation for a member of the Pugin household to stroll around any corner to demand you depart their home immediately.
I've deliberately avoided showing any wide interior shots, partly because no photo can do it justice but also to encourage you to go and have a look for yourself. The Landmark Trust
are holding two public open days, on the 24th and 25th June. Plus four further open days are planned for September. I imagine they'll be swamped with visitors who, if they're anything like me, won't want to leave.