St Paul Deptford is London’s finest Baroque parish Churches and was one of the finest works of architect Thomas Archer built in 1730 in Deptford. During this time, the new church commissioners decided to build fifty churches and St Paul Deptford was one of them. Thomas Archer built only two churches under this act, they were St Paul Deptford and St John’s Smith, Westminster.
Thomas Archer was one of their fellow commissioners assigned to design a church in Deptford. Archer also designed Birmingham Cathedral and St John’s Smith Square. Both of them were designed in Roman Baroque Style of architecture. Other architect appointed under the New Church of London Act of 1711 after the Great Fire of 1666, consisted Sir Christopher Wren, James Gibbs, Nicholas Hawksmoor and John James.
St. Paul, Deptford (1712-30) sits massively in its park-like churchyard off Dept-ford High Street near Greenwich. The great semi-circular portico rises to a circular Borromini-like tower and a very English spire. The giant rusticated pilasters all round the church make the flanks rather ponderous, though the ambitious double stairways of stone up to each side door (now closed) are well brought off.
The portico contains an almost round lobby without windows, but the feeling of an enclosure is gone once inside the door into the main church. The first impression is of a very complex plan there are similarities to contemporary Architect Nicholas Hawksmoor churches, but the contrasts are even more striking.
The plan is centralised (but not a square), elongated towards the altar. The giant Corinthian columns all around and the rectangular panel ceiling are splendid but rather heavy. There are side galleries and four miniature corner galleries like opera boxes set diagonally to the plan of the church. Behind these, the corners of the church contain rooms with big windows on all sides that let a subtle light into the interior. It is an ambitious Baroque composition, with a personal taste of its architect, though without the flare of inspiration that lit Hawksmoor’s churches.
St Paul’s Deptford is built mainly from Portland Stone and it is raised on crypt which is slightly above the ground. As built above the crypt, you need to climb the stairs to enter the church.
The most unusual thing about the design of the church is the cylindrical tower with a steeple, around which a semi- circular portico of four giant Tuscan columns. The body of the church facade is articulated by colossal pilasters.
The body of the church is almost square in plan with pedimented roof set transversally. The steeple embedded in the plane of the wall of church echoes the apse at the east end of Church. This design was not thought during the construction but was an afterthought that requires more structural strengthening of the underpinnings of the west end.
The interior of St Paul’s Deptford has two side aisles which are separated by giant columns that continue as attached columns on the other side of the wall. There are two galleries one is organ gallery located above the main entrance and other are side galleries supported by the giant columns. The east windows are designed in the form of Venetian Window following the curve of apse, ” a very Baroque trait”.