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

Churchyard today.jpg

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.

churchyard-1731

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

churchyard-1835

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

Churchyard 1897.jpg

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

Churchyard 1959.jpg

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.

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