St. Paul's, Deptford

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Template:Infobox church St Paul's, Deptford, is one of London's finest Baroque parish churches, cited as "one of the most moving C18 churches in London" in the Buildings of England series. It was designed by gentleman architect Thomas Archer and built between 1712 and 1730 in Deptford, which was then a suburb in Kent but is now part of South East London. It was one of the 50 churches that were to be built by the New Church Commissioners, although only 12 were ultimately constructed. It and St. John's, Westminster, were the only church designed by Archer to be built under the Act.


With rising urban growth in Deptford (mainly made up of literate, skilled workers tending to dissent from the established church), the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches decided to counter this drift away from the established Anglican communion by building a major new Church of England church in the area. To this end they appointed Thomas Archer, one of their fellow commissioner,s to design a church in Deptford. Archer also designed St John's Smith Square and Birmingham Cathedral). He began almost immediately, designing it in his usual Roman Baroque style and completing the fabric and most of the decoration by 1720 (though work continued until its consecration in 1730).

The Rectory also designed by Archer, was demolished, ca 1886. Since 2004, the church has been home to St Paul's Sinfonia.[1]


thumb]] The church is built from Portland Stone, and, as with most of these churches, it is raised on a crypt that is mostly above ground, thus needing a flight of stairs to enter. The most unusual feature of the building is the cylindrical tower with a steeple, around which is wrapped a semi-circular portico of four giant Tuscan columns; colossal pilasters articulate the body of the church facades.The steeple embedded in the plane of the church wall echoes the apse at the east end. It was an afterthought, which required structural strengthening of the underpinnings of the west end. The body of the church is approximately square in plan, with its pedimented roof set transversely. Two additional, liturgically and practically unnecessary side entrances in the middle of the walls, each approached by a grand divided symmetrical staircase, suited to a Palladian villa. The east wall has a projecting apse.

The interior has two side aisles each separated by two giant Corinthian columns, which continue as attached columns on the other walls. There are side galleries supported by the giant columns, with an organ gallery above the entrance. The east window is in the form of a Venetian window but following the curve of the apse, "a very Baroque trait, no doubt indulged in by Archer on the precedent of Vanbrugh's licenses" Sir Nikolaus Pevsner oberved. This is articulated by small Tuscan columns.



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