AN ALTAR designed by the famous 19th-century architect Edward Pugin has been sold to a church in America.
Weighing almost seven tons, the Victorian altar was sold to Andy Thornton Ltd, an architectural antiques specialist, who subsequently sold it to St John Cantius Church in Chicago.
The altar was removed from the disused chapel of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge, B artes tree , Herefordshire which belonged to a convent now being developed as part of a housing development.
The Pugin chapel, which adjoins the convent, belongs the historic Chapels Trust. The 2002 article mentions that there was the possibility of the Pugin-designed fittings being removed from the chapel, because of plans to build a partition.
Built in 1863 by Edward Pugin, son of the renowned Augustus Pugin, the chapel and convent lay derelict after it was abandoned by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge in 1992 after the nuns ran up debts of around £1 million to create a care village. The convent's foundation stone was laid and blessed by the chaplain in 1862.
The order of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge was founded in 1641 by Blessed Jean Eudes and had the rescue of fallen women at the heart of its mission. In 1863 the first sisters came to Britain and by 1910 they had six houses across the UK, including the one in Bartestree.
Pugin's altar is 20ft tall and almost 14ft across. Carved figures of the Holy Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus as well as angels adorn the back section of the altar. The centre section is formed by ornate relief panelling. depicting vines, leaves and an abundance of grapes.
A Latin inscription reads, roughly translated, "0 Salutary host. who expandest the door of the sky".
The building is Grade II listed and is a fine example of the Gothic Revival, which Edward Pugin inherited from his father. Augustus Pugin designed the interior of the Houses of Parliament.