From here, to there

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“Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly”.

– Plato

How and why have we come to this decision to redevelop S. Paul’s?

Part of the reason we need an action plan to take forward and redevelop the church is partly because Tideway Tunnel decided to come to Deptford.  After much negotiating, an agreement was reached between Tideway and the church, to allow for building monitoring and to provide some resources for the long-term goal to see the church facilities more broadly developed for the future.

While a Heritage Lottery Fund Project was carried which was structural and heritage led between, 1999 – 2005 there was no forward plan on completion of the works and no revenue funding or staff. We are now at the point at which this needs to be addressed in order to conserve this Grade I listed building.

In order to facilitate the mission of this church, money and resources need to be available to manage and maintain the church building and churchyard to contribute to the Diocesan Parish Support Fund, which will provide us with a Parish Priest and to employ person/s for the administration and facilities management.

S. Paul’s is the only Grade I listed building in the Borough of Lewisham. According to the Diocese of Southwark Poverty Briefing 2016 report, S Paul’s is the 2nd poorest parish. On average the weekly running costs of the building are £1000 and we are struggling with these financial demands.

It is our aspiration to cover all costs for the church including ministry and repairs, which would be approx. £200,000 per annum to be able to meet costs. These are the figures that S. Paul’s requires in order to secure its future.

The recent work carried out was to analyse the data collected as a result of visiting a number of London churches. The churches selected were of a similar history, background and context to S. Paul’s and have all recently completed their redevelopment projects.

The churches visited during the period March-May 2017 include:

  1. St George’s Bloomsbury
  2. St George the Martyr, Borough
  3. St George’s Cathedral, Southwark
  4. St James’ West Hampstead
  5. St John’s at Hackney
  6. St Mary’s Islington
  7. St Martins-in-the-field
  8. St Patrick’s Soho

What was concluded from these eight church examples? Firstly, it was clear that many began as building repair projects, which were remodelled into a larger plan. Ideally, the project plan can be identified, measured and defined in order to succeed. However, in all these cases, they were somewhat more organic and flexible in this approach. Therefore building a plan which can accommodate changes to funding in the form of a Plan A, B or C scenario would be advisable. Taking what you can from these frameworks to fit with S. Paul’s in order to define a right-sized approach to ensure that the project is delivered on-time, on budget, and in-scope, and meet an acceptable level of quality.

Keep it relevant! This applies to the community in which the church serves. First and foremost, keeping worship at the centre and mission of the church. Secondly, while it is impossible to serve all desired outcomes for the church, it is still paramount that all options are identified and addressed.

Decision-making comes from the core team. This will drive the project and keep it on track. In order to build an actionable project management plan, a project team must be on board and maintained throughout.

Taking a view of the “big picture” approach, which focuses on the project outcomes, not processes will help in defining the overall project success. While, at the same time keeping a “worse-case scenario” project plan to ensure that if sufficient funding is not secured, then there will still be a correlation between the overall satisfaction.

GOING FORWARD…

We know we are setting a bold agenda, but we believe this is all possible but in order for this to happen there will be hard work involved. So now is the time.

So therefore, here are some key questions that arise for S. Paul’s:

How much money do we need to do this?

We need an income of at least £200,000 per annum. This equates to £3400 per week and £500 per day.

Who’s going to do this?

We need a group of people to support us as well as external advice from structural and heritage people.

What are we doing to do?

Bearing in mind that the main business of the church is service and prayer, we need to reconfigure the spaces of the church to allow for improves access, facilities and income generation. This will include building hire of interior space, crypt improvement works (café/offices/community hall) and employ 1-2 part-time staff to operate the building.

How will we raise this money?

We shall seek funding from HLF or other charitable organisation to allow for these improvement works.

Next Step?

By the end of the year, we would like to have finalised our design/development plan for the church by consulting with the church community, through two consultation and working meeting days. This final plan for the church will then form the basis of our action plan to take forward in 2018.

Surveying the Churchyard Wall

Boundary Wall

The Master Plan aims to create a large new area of public space between Deptford Church Street and Deptford High Street, to the south of the churchyard. We are now in discussion with Tideway and Lewisham Council who have been awarded S106 funding. This funding will look at new ways to integrate this plan with the church and provide a sense of openness to the area.

The church is keen for these plans to be sensitive to the mission and aims of the church life and fundamentally to retain the primary purpose of the churchyard, which is a place of tranquility, contemplation and safe space for all to enjoy.

There has been little research carried out in the past on the churchyard wall and limited amount of records and archives to provide a concise historical account. This survey is arguably the most up to date and thorough analysis that will help provide a full assessment of the significance of this structure including; architectural interest, historic interest, group value, social value, former uses and local distinctiveness.

The historical value placed on the wall is its association with Thomas Archer, who was one of the foremost architects of his time and S. Paul’s is notably one of the finest Baroque churches in London. The wall has long been part of the communal life of the area and is a boundary between the public realm and the sacred burial ground.

The church is built of Portland Stone, whereas the churchyard wall is built of brick – the bricklayer employed at the time of construction was a Deptford man, Thomas Lucas. The Rectory that once existed, but was demolished in 1889, was also built of brick. The churchyard wall was a requirement stipulated upon the Church Commission, who laid down that all new churches built by the Commission must be provided with a burial ground, which in turn, must be enclosed by a stone wall with iron gates.

Churchyard Wall

The Rocque map of 1745 shows that the original burial ground was located at the east end of the Church, where the original church walls enclosed this site.

The 1835 painting shows the church from Deptford High Street, situated behind the entrance gates that once fronted the pavement. The boundary between the churchyard and Church Street was uneven due to the Baptist Chapel situated at the east end and described in the diary of John Evelyn as ‘a wonderful concourse of people at the Dissenter’s Meeting House in this parish [Deptford] and the parish church left exceedingly thin’. The Baptist Church which adjoined the east wall of the church was demolished in the late 1960s.

The wall suffered some bomb damage during the Second World War. However, although there were many repairs carried out to the wall over the past, much of the footprint is original.

Much of the wall would remain unaltered until the demolition of the Rectory and later with the 1910 Act of Parliament which permitted church grounds to become public open spaces. S.Paul’s was one of the first churches in the country to act in this initiative and the gravestones were cleared, and arranged around the churchyard walls and tree planting commenced in the 1890s. The churchyard was officially opened on 12th June 1913 by the Lord Mayor of Deptford, Alderman Schultz.

More recent changes include: demolition of two sections of churchyard wall in 1995; the formation of a temporary opening in the church wall in 1999; the creation of a new pedestrian and vehicular access to Crossfield Street; the erection of iron railings to the wall on the north in 2004 and the construction of two new buttresses to support a section of the south boundary wall in 2011.

The churchyard wall could certainly do with conserving and structurally securing areas of that have become fragile and decayed. While there are other areas that could do with improving for security measures. Further updates will be made in due course!

SPD April Update – Appointment of Structural Engineer

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Sinclair Johnston to support us with our project at S. Paul’s Deptford. This post came as a result of a meeting held in October 2016 with Tideway Tunnel, Historic England, The Diocese of Southwark, S. Paul’s Deptford Parish Church Council and our church architect. It is crucial that S. Paul’s is monitored and assessed by a professional such as Sinclair who has a vast amount of experience working on similar projects. The post has been arranged through Tideway and is a very positive outcome to provide the support we need in this next phase. Over the next coming months, we will work with Sinclair and Tideway to establish a clear programme of building monitoring for the church.

Interestingly, another similar project that Sinclair worked on was at St Patrick’s Soho, which was affected by Crossrail Tunnel. St Patrick’s successfully excavated and created a new basement level for the church in order to provide a community centre, office space and kitchens, which specifically caters for a homeless shelter. As a result of appointing Sinclair, we have been introduced to this project and have now met with Fr Alexander from St Patrick’s. This relationship and others we are building with partner churches, we believe, is crucial for developing a network of support and advice that can be built into our own project.

 

New Year update – Churchyard and Deptford Highstreet

Already there has been momentum with developments at S. Paul’s, including talks with Lewisham Council over regeneration plans of the High Street and also with Tideway in terms of the final design and landscaping of Crossfield Street site once the works have finished.

Churchyard and Deptford highstreet

Following the works that Lewisham Council carried out on the south end of Deptford high Street there are plans to now continue this along the North end. TFL are funding this scheme to deliver these works and consultants from Project Centre Ltd have been developing the designs.

Most of the designs include encouraging more pedestrianised roads, upgrading paving, improving controlled parking and linking to the historic character of the street. As part of these works the entrance area to the churchyard, also known as the piazza, is part of these discussions. The proposals, subject to permission, are to link the high street more closely to the piazza by replacing the paving and bollards. At the same time introducing a new noticeboard to replace the current one, which is now quite tired and in need of upgrading. The tomb which is in some state of neglect and is of historical significance, will also benefit with some interpretation and upgraded railings. The dating of the tomb requires further research, as previous inscriptions date it to the Roman period but it is more likely to be Saxon. An earlier granite block (possibly with some decorated markings and/or quarry marks) is placed on top of a much later grave (the inscribed slab is probably 18th century). For further information on the council plans and developments see their website:

http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/inmyarea/regeneration/deptford/deptford-centre/Pages/Deptford-High-Street-north-end.aspx

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Interestingly, the whole question on the visual appearance of the piazza and how it should be designed, brings up questions on both a practical and historical level. From a practical side, S. Paul’s has had on-going issues with the public using the churchyard as a thoroughfare or parking site. Those parking in the churchyard must have a prior appointment with the church or be visiting it to worship. Therefore any design changes to bollards or opening up the street must account for this issue, so as not to encourage use by vehicles but at the same time encourage more people to visit and enjoy the churchyard and setting. We are hoping that the new design will enable more people to visit the church and see it from the high street, this will certainly be helped by improving the noticeboard and including a newly commissioned engraved paving stone with details relating to the church.

A view of the churchyard from the 18th century to the present day highlights how it has changed in the past three centuries, but also how the original Georgian design was very simple, open and generally less cluttered then it is today – including having less trees in order to make more emphasis on the church building itself.

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1735 view of S. Paul’s Deptford – open plan churchyard

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1835 view of S. Paul’s Deptford – notice how the churchyard links more closely with the highstreet and how tombstones are now in place

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1897 early photograph of S. Paul’s Deptford – churchyard is now almost full with tombstones

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S. Paul’s Deptford 1959 – tombstones have now been cleared to the side and church resembling its former 18th century appearance

The vision would be to reinstate the original designs and openness that the early churchyard achieved, which would make it more accessible to ongoing pedestrians. At the same time encouraging all people to enjoy and respect the tranquility of this place of worship.

Church Development Project – 2016 overview

2016 has been a busy year at S. Paul’s Deptford and next year is set to be even busier, as plans for the redevelopment project commence, and the main works with Tideway Tunnel begin in spring. However it is worth looking back over the past year to highlight what we have been up to.

Tideway

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Over the past year, we have come a long way with building up key contacts and relationships with Tideway. We have made much progress on taking plans forward to conserve and protect the building, during the Tideway construction work. This is important so as not to disrupt the day-to-day life of the church.

Vibration monitoring equipment was installed in the church over various periods this year to assess the early works. So far the results have proved that there is no cause for alarm or threat to the building. This monitoring will continue once the major works begin next year. A strategic meeting was held in October to discuss the next phase for monitoring and conservation action with members from Tideway, History England, The Diocese of Southwark and the appointed church architect. The main works programme will have the peak period 2017 – 2018, when shaft excavation commences. The structural support for the building has not been considered a requirement, monitoring of building survey reports are both during and after the works. The church will appoint an independent structural engineer who will assist and provide advise to S. Paul’s with this work, which currently is coordinated between the Rector of the Parish and Project Officer.

Project Officer Overview

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One of the key priorities has been about building a case for support and consulting with the church council on plans for the redevelopment. The vision plan that was presented is now at the stage in which we can move towards developing this further into a business plan. We are talking to possible partners who might help us develop our business plan, consultation and development.

Public engagement has also been developed to promote and build awareness among the community and beyond with the blog and through our twitter account. The other key priority has been to actively fundraise for repair grants for the roof/fabric of the building which now requires urgent attention. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in the Government Roof Repair Fund and have now applied to other organisations, which we hope to hear from in the New Year.

What is happening in 2017…

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Tideway works are split into three construction phases. The first two phases would primarily comprise site preparation and construction of the shaft and during these phases a hoarding would run around the perimeter of the Crossfield Open Space. Phase three involves construction of other on site structures with the primary works being construction of the interception chamber within Deptford Church Street. Furthmore, a survey of the clock tower and spire are still required and will need to be planned accordingly

In Deptford and New Cross, dozens of projects are underway that will provide significant numbers of new homes and jobs for the area, along with major improvements to the local infrastructure and environment.

This statement comes from Lewisham Council’s website and demonstrates the changes that are taking place in the area. The church is a focal point in the Deptford landscape and community and we are actively keeping informed of all developments. We are now working with the council on improvement plans to the Deptford high street, which include proposals for a new entrance area to the churchyard. Similar plans are also in motion with another organisation who will be re-landscaping Crossfield Green once the Tideway works have been completed.

Church Focus – F. Mellish, curate of S. Paul’s and wartime hero

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Fr. Edward Noel Mellish is one of S. Paul’s past curates and was the first Army Chaplain to win the Victoria Cross.

He was born in 1880 in Barnet, North London and was educated at Saffron Walden Grammer School before becoming a member of the Artists Rifles. In 1900 he began serving with Baden-Powell’s police against the Boers in South Africa.

He became curate of s. Paul’s in 1912 and took part in many community parish projects such as working with the Church Lads Brigade opening the Noel Club. Once the First World War broke out, F. Mellish became an army chaplain, serving from 1915 to 1919. His brother Second Lieutenant Richard Mellish was killed in action whilst serving with the 1st Middlesex Regiment at the Battle of Loos in 1915. F. Mellish was attached to the 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers in Ypres Salient in 1916 and it was then that he performed the action for which he was awarded the Victorian Cross in the action at S. Eloi, Belgium. On the three days 27 – 29 March 1916, during the heavy fighting he worked continuously attending to and rescuing wounded men.

An officer witness these actions:

Into this tempest of fire the brave Parson walked with a prayer book under his arm as though on church parade in peace time.

Some of the men would not have survived the ordeal had it not been for the prompt assistance rendered to them by Mr Mellish.

Mellish survived the war and was the first Army Chaplain to be awarded the Victorian Cross for his bravery. Today the VC is displayed at the Royal Fusiliers Museum in the Tower of London and Replica medals are on display at the Museum of Army Chaplaincy.

Church Focus – John Harrison, founder and first surgeon of the London Hospital

Of the many interesting memorial plaques at S. Paul’s, John Harrison’s is a notable one to mention. He was the founder and first surgeon of the London Hospital and his plaque can be viewed in the interior south end of the church today.

By the mid-18th century there were five voluntary hospitals in London – St BartsGuy’s, St Thomas’Westminster and St George’s, which provided free medical care to those who could not afford it, however there were none in the east of the City, serving the rapidly growing, and impoverished population there – this was the void that the London Hospital was to fill.

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London Hospital, Whitechapel in 1753 engraving

In 1740, a group of 7 gentlemen led by 22 year old surgeon John Harrison, met at the Feathers Tavern, Cheapside and established the London Infirmary in Featherstone Street, Moorfields. In 1742 the Infirmary moved to Prescott Street and in 1748, the 2nd Duke of Richmond was asked by John Harrison, to become the first president of the new hospital, at which point it was renamed the London Hospital. However, it wasn’t until June 1752 that it was reported in the Gentleman’s Magazine that ‘The first stone was laid for the foundations of the new London Hospital near White Chapel’. The hospital was able to grow its public support and expand in successive years following the rise of the population and successive outbreaks of cholera between 1830 -1866. In 1990 the Queen visited the hospital and added ‘Royal’ to the name, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of its founding.

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From 1731 – 75 James Bate was Rector of S. Paul’s. Mr Bate had been a fellow of St. John’s Cambridge. He gave a 15th century Persian manuscript to the college in ‘grateful remembrance of the happy years’. He was also an author ‘An address to his parishioners on the occasion of the Rebellion’ (the rebellion led by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745). When John Harrison died in 1753, he was buried in S. Paul’s churchyard during Mr Bate’s incumbency. In 1913 S. Paul’s erected a tablet in memory of John Harrison. (For further information see records held by London Metropolitan Archives: http://bit.ly/2fAlctY)

 

Church Focus: The Turner ‘Glory’

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The Turner ‘Glory’ reinstated – image copyright S. Paul’s Deptford

Henry Turner, who was appointed as painter by the commissioners on 18 September 1716, was employed firstly to paint and guild ‘the vase and fane upon the stone spire of the new Church Erecting in the parish of Deptford’. In 1724 he was instructed to ‘paint and guild about the altar’ and to include ‘a large curtain, cherub heads and a Glory in the spherical arch’. Turner’s original 1724 ‘glory’ in the apse of the church was only discovered in 1975 by Peter Foster, and fully reinstated in 2002 by Richard Ireland, due to damage caused by the fire of 29 May 2000.

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A watercolour picture shows the replaced ‘glory’ with another composition including fictive drapery, which is attributed to the painter Benjamin West (1723–1820). It was also at this point that most of the architecture was painted in ‘imitation of white marble, with grey veins, again with trompe l’oeil enrichments and fictive fluting on the columns and pilasters’, as seen in the Scharf watercolour.

The team involved in the HLF interior restoration of S. Paul’s (2000 – 2003) carried out investigative work in order to decide how to restore this painting. The Doric order of the altarpiece was identified as painted in a pale grey imitating English alabaster, along with moulding enriched with trompe l’oeil and also the heavy retouching of the 1970s paint on the original Turner ‘glory’. However it was eventually decided that since most of Turner’s paintwork had been so badly damaged, the team would ‘re-create the whole of his scheme anew, making allowance for discolouration’, led by Wim & Joy Huning. The paint was prepared and based on the paints found under the microscope, thus preserving the original scheme.

 

Church Focus: Revd. Charles Burney

The key figures to a church community are the wardens who are elected annually by their parish and appointed to care for the church and its community. The duties of a church warden at S. Paul’s Deptford usually extend beyond this. One of the key responsibilities however is to maintain the fabric of the church and its contents. We recently completed an up to date inventory of the contents of the church. The terrier and the inventory are generally published together as the ‘church property register’ and are submitted by the PCC (parochial church council) annually. Furthermore, an annual written report  is produced on the fabric, fixtures, fittings and furniture of the church summarizing all the maintenance and repairs, which can include proposals and plans to carry out any future repair works.

It was really quite amazing putting together an inventory for S. Paul’s Deptford and realising once again what a fascinating and important building S. Paul’s is and has been for generations. I would like to share some of these items and the people connected to them, by publishing a series entitled ‘Church Focus’ each week.

 

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Description: Carrara marble portrait bust of Revd. Charles Burney the Younger (1757-1817) by Joseph Nollekens RA (1727-1823) British Museum. Collection No. 1944.0704.2

Rev. Charles Burney (Born in 1757, died 1817) was a school master, a classical scholar and a rector of S. Paul’s Deptford from 1811 – 17. He was the son of the eminent music historian, Charles Burney and the brother of the novelist Fanny Burney. His brother, James, sailed with Captain James Cook on his second and third voyages and became an admiral.

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Music historian Charles Burney by Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1781

Burney was a pupil at a school in Chiswick run by Dr Wiliam Rose, a translator of Sallust. Burney later married Dr Rose’s daughter. He moved the school to Hammersmith and then to Greenwich in 1793 where he established a private academy. Many eminent naval and military officers were educated at the academy.

Burney had an important collection of rare books and manuscripts, mostly 16th and 17th century editions, which he left behind and are now kept at the British Museum for the nation. The question however remains how Revd. Burney acquired these, especially when many books went missing when he was attending Cambridge University!

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S. Paul’s Church Deptford, Portrait of Revd. Charles Burney

The memorial in the sanctuary of the church records that Revd. Burney was a Doctor of Divinity and a Fellow of the Royal Society, a prebendary of Lincoln and a Chaplain Ordinary to His Majesty (George III).

After his death a number of Burney’s most celebrated scholars assembled immediately and subscribed for a monument to his memory in Westminster Abbey. This, the noblest tribute that can be paid and was completed by Mr Gabagan and placed in the South aisle of the church, between Dr Knipe and Stepney, and consists of a tablet and bust, copied from the excellent likeness taken by Nollekens.

In the varied and important duties of a Parish Priest Dr. Burney proved himself thoroughly qualified and a monument to his memory was completed by Goblet and the inscription was provided by his friend, the Rev. Josiah Thomas, Archdeacon of Bath stating:

In him was united the highest attainments in learning, with manners at once diginified and attractive, peculiar promptitude and accuracy of judgment, with equal generosity and kindness of heart, his zealous attachment to the Church of England was tempered by moderation and his impressive discourses from the pulpit became doubly beneficial from the influence of his own example..

– Excerpts from Rev. Charles Burney’s Obituary, The Gentleman’s Magazine Vol. 125, 1819

Roof Repairs

Unfortunately we were unsuccessful with our bid for the Governments Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund.  The grant was to pay for roof repairs that we urgently require to prevent further water leakage to areas of deterioration of the roof.

The proposed action is to re-lay and re-baton sections of the roof, along with repairing the numerous open joints on the stringcourse of the parapet, removing vegetative growths and repointing. Damp penetration at the North wall on the east side has led to cracking of the plaster of the interior wall at the ceiling level, and flaking of the paint.

Furthermore, iron cramps that were installed are now rusted and adding to further damage to stonework and need replacing with stainless steel substitutes. There is also an area of approx. 17 m sq of zinc sheeting at the South side of the roof that has indented markings and will corrode if not replaced.

The cost of work is approx £30,000 to correct this and therefore will need a grant to cover these repair costs. We will now be looking for alternative grants to  apply for in order to action this  work.

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Iron cramps that need replacing as corroding and causing damage to stonework

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Section in the roof of church showing the water leakage issues

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Plasterwork with showing signs of water ingress and flaking of paintwork