Sunday, 12 June 2011

St Paul (Deptford High St) SE8

Described by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England as "One of London's finest Baroque buildings", and by John Betjeman as "a pearl in the heart of Deptford", St Paul's was built by Thomas Archer 1712-30 as one of the fifty new "Commissioners' Churches". Tablets commemorate John Harrison, who was the founder of, and first surgeon at, the London Hospital, Dr Charles Burney brother of Fanny Burney, the novelist, and a delightful inscription recalling a midwife, Margaret Hawtrees: "She was an indulgent mother, and the best of wives. She brought into this world more than three thousand lives."
The church's acknowledged contribution to the community in a deprived area, as well as its architectural merit, earned it a donation of £50,000 from local authorities which, added to a further £50,000 privately raised, enabled substantial restoration work to be carried out 1975-6. A quarter of a century later, in 2000, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded St Paul's the largest grant accorded to a parish church, £2,777,000. Together with another smaller grant from English Heritage, this funded a yet more ambitious restoration project which was completed in 2004. St Paul's has long had a good claim to be considered one of the finest parish churches in London. Few could now argue.

From the Encyclopedia of London, p 806.