Deptford, St Paul

The Environs of London: Volume 4, Counties of Herts, Essex and Kent. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1796.

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'Deptford, St Paul', in The Environs of London: Volume 4, Counties of Herts, Essex and Kent, (London, 1796) pp. 386-393. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]




Nature of the soil.

This parish, which was constituted in the year 1730, is bounded by Deptford—St. Nicholas, Greenwich, Lewisham, Camberwell, Rotherhithe, and by the river Thames. It contains about 1800 acres of land, of which about 500 are arable; about the same quantity occupied by market gardeners (fn. 1); the remainder marsh and pasture. The soil on the hills, towards Brockley, is clay; in other parts, sand or gravel. At Loampit-hole, in this parish, is a large chalk pit, in which are found various kinds of extraneous fossils.

River Ravensborne.


Skirmish there.

The Ravensborne, which separates this parish from Greenwich, and falls into the Thames here, rises on Keston common. Its banks are under the superintendence of a commission of sewers. The bridge over this river, at Deptford, was formerly of wood, and was repaired by the inhabitants of the hundred (fn. 2). Previous to the battle of Blackheath, there was a skirmish between Lord Dawbeney's army and "certeyne archers of the rebelles, whose arrowes, as is reported "(says Hall), were in length a full yerde (fn. 3)." Deptford-bridge was rebuilt in 1570 (fn. 4); again, in 1628, at the sole expence of King Charles I (fn. 5).


In Hasted's History of Kent is an engraving of the head of a Janus, found (in this parish) on the road to New Cross, near St. Thomas's Watering-place.

The Deptford pink.

The caryopbyllus pratensis, which abounds in this part of Kent, was called by the old botanists, who found it in this parish, the Deptford pink.


In this parish stands one of the newly-invented telegraphs, which communicates intelligence between Dover and the Admiralty (fn. 6).

Manor of Brockley.

Monastery at Brockley.

The manor of Brockley, partly in this parish and partly in that of Lewisham, was granted by Wakelin de Maminot the younger, about the beginning of the thirteenth century, to Michael de Turnham; who, soon afterwards, sold it to Juliana Countess of Norfolk, wife of the said Wakelin, to the intent that the might found a religious house here; the site of which was confirmed to the convent, by the Countess, and by Geoffrey de Say, who was the lord paramount (fn. 7). Not long afterwards, Robert de Turnham, nephew of Michael, gave these monks an estate at Begham in Sussex, whither they removed themselves. He confirmed to them also this manor of Brockley (fn. 8). In 1328, they had a grant of free-warren on their lands here (fn. 9). The convent at Begham being dissolved, upon the suppression of the smaller monasteries, in 1538, Cardinal Wolsey procured a grant of its revenues for his college at Oxford (fn. 10). Upon the Cardinal's fall, they were seized by the crown. A lease of that part of the manor of Brockley which lies in this parish was granted, in 1568, by the name of the capital messuage of the manor of Brockley, to Philip Conway for 21 years (fn. 11). This estate, which is situated near New Cross turnpike, and called Upper Brockley-farm, was, about the time of the Restoration, vested in Sir John Cutler, Bart.; who, by deed, in 1692, settled it (after his death) on Edmund Boulter, Esq.; who, by will, in 1707, left it to his brother William. In 1709, William Boulter, Esq. made a settlement, by which it passed to his grandson Richard Wilkinson, and afterwards to William Wickham, Esq. and Mary his wife, sister of the said Richard. It is now vested in John Drake, LL.D. and Thomas Drake Tirwhit, Esq. in right of their wives, daughters of William Wickham, Esq. and grandaughters of William Wickham above mentioned (fn. 12).

Manor of Deptford Strond.

No part of Mr. Way's estate, though called the manor of Deptford Strond, and described in Queen Mary's grant as lying in the parishes of Deptford, Camberwell, and Rotherhithe, is now esteemed in this parish (fn. 13).

Manors of Hatcham and Bredingburst.

The manor of Hatcham, on the contrary, though formerly esteemed to be in Camberwell, is wholly in this parish. It has been described in Vol. I. of this work (fn. 14). Bredinghurst, in Peckham, was formerly esteemed in the county of Kent also, as appears by ancient records. It has been described under Camberwell (fn. 15). It must be observed, that the county of Surrey, as its bounds are now known and defined (fn. 16), extends to New Cross turnpike, and comprehends a great part of this parish.


In the year 1547, Thomas Bassingburne held Skinner's-place, in this parish, with certain lands formerly parcel of the possessions of St. Thomas's Hospital in Southwark; Skinner's-place afterwards belonged to Richard Stonely; and, in 1568, to Anne Lady Parry (fn. 17).

Church of St. Paul's.

The parish church of St. Paul's, Deptford, was built under the power of certain Acts, passed in the ninth and tenth years of Queen Anne, for the building fifty new churches in and near London. It was finished before 1730, but not consecrated or dedicated till the 30th of June that year, when that ceremony was performed by Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London. It is a handsome stone structure, consisting of a chancel, nave, and two aisles; supported by columns of the Corinthian order. The pews are of Dutch oak. At the west end is a taper spire.


On the east wall, to the north of the altar, is a monument, by Nollekens, to the memory of James Sayer, Esq. Vice Admiral of the White (fn. 18), who died in 1776: on the north wall is the monument of Mary, daughter of Benjamin and Mary Finch, wife of Richard Hanwell of Oxford, Gent., 1754: and on the south wall, that of Matthew Finch, Gent., 1745.

Tombs in the churchyard.

Mrs. Hawtree, a famous midwife.

In the churchyard are the tombs of Martha, wife of Richard Leake, Esq. (son of Sir John Leake), 1732; Elizabeth Blake, (sister of Richard Leake,) 1734; Thomas Hawtree, aged 95, 1757; Margaret, his wife (fn. 19), 1734; Thomas Stanton, Esq. 1762; Mrs. Jane Susanna Desboro, 1766; John Paul Elers Scott, M. A. 1777; Captain Stephen Dryden, 1779; Mr. Archibald Hutton, 1780; John Barron, Esq. of Woolacre in this parish, 1786; Richard Conyers, LL. D. rector, 1786; Thomas Mitchell, Esq. Assistant Surveyor of the Navy, 1790; and Thomas Hicks, Esq., 1795.

The rectory.

By an Act of Parliament, passed in 1730, the sum of 3500l. (out of the duty on coals) was allotted for the maintenance of the rector of the new church at Deptford, (afterwards dedicated to St. Paul,) to be laid out in the purchase of lands or other heredita_ ments in fee-simple. It was enacted also, that the churchwardens of this parish (in whom four acres of glebe, taken out of the old parish, are vested) should pay the sum of 70l. per annum, as a farther maintenance for the rector, in lieu of fees for vaults and burials, except when the service is read in the church. These endowments, together with other surplice dues and Easter offerings, form the whole income of the rectory. By the said Act, William Norton, D. D. then vicar of St. Nicholas, was to be the first rector of the new church; and to hold both benefices during his life. After his death, the first presentation of this rectory was given to the crown; and the perpetuity of the advowson vested in the Wickham family, (as patrons of the old church,) to whom it still belongs. The rectory is not to be held in commendam.

The present rector is John Eaton, LL. D. who succeeded Richard Conyers, LL. D. in 1786.


There are several meeting-houses in this parish; one belonging to the Quakers, in Butt-lane; the Independents have two, one in Church-street, and one in Butt-lane, with a cemetery adjoining, in which are memorials for Mr. John Creasy, deacon, 1777; Josiah Whiting, deacon, 1792, and others. In Church-street there is a meeting-house belonging to the Anabaptists, which has a small endowment; service is performed there only once a fortnight. There are two meeting-houses belonging to the Methodists.

Parish register.

The parish register begins in July 1730.

Comparative state of population.

Average of Baptisms. Average of Burials.
1731–9 140 129 8/9
1780–4 2772/5 3922/5
1784–9 3001/5 3354/5
1790–4 315 3962/5
1795 346 350

The present number of houses in the parish of St. Paul is about 2300.

Instances of longevity.

The following instances of longevity are recorded: "Margaret Haley, widow, aged 100 years and upwards, buried Mar. 20, 1739–40; Thomas Hawtree, aged 95, Oct. 9, 1757; Mrs. Mary Magdalen Paillet, widow, aged 99 years, Jan. 26, 1755; Hannah Woodward, aged 90, Nov. 20, 1782; Jane Mills, of Churchstreet, widow, aged 94, Dec. 23, 1785; Catherine Lester, widow, from Rotherhithe, aged 98, May 5, 1788."

Boulter's alms-house near Oxford.

Edmund Boulter, Esq. by his will, bearing date 1707, gave the parish of Deptford a right of presenting one pensioner to a certain alms-house which he directed should be built near Oxford. They were not built till since the year 1780. The pensioners have 7l. per annum, and a good warm gown with a silver badge. This benefaction has been determined to belong exclusively to the parish of St. Paul, on account of its connection with the Brockley estate.

This parish has a moiety of all the benefactions left to St. Nicholas's before the separation of the two parishes; and of some of those left since that date.

Benefactions left exclusively to this Parish.

Date. Donor's Name. Present Value. Use.
1750. Sir John Evelyn, Bart. Land, now let at 6l. per an. Poor.
1758. Mary Wiseman, Interest of 20l. Poor.
Interest of 200l. To clothe and educate six poor boys. This legacy was refused, as inadequate to the purpose.
1767. Richard Brook, Interest of 100l. 3 per cents. Six poor housekeepers.



In this parish stands the Victualling-house, on the site of a large range of storehouses, formerly called the Red-house, which was burnt down in July 1639, and all the stores consumed. It was afterwards rebuilt, and was included in the grant to Sir John Evelyn in 1726, being then described as 870 feet in length and 35 in width. These premises were for some time rented by the East India Company; the Crown having re-purchased them of the Evelyns, a Victuallinghouse was built there in 1745; in 1749, it was burnt down by an accidental fire, which consumed a great quantity of stores and provisions. It was afterwards rebuilt, and has been since enlarged with new storehouses of various kinds; it contains also a windmill for grinding corn, an extensive cooperage and brewhouse, slaughtering-houses, houses for curing beef, pork, &c.; bake-houses, and other buildings, besides dwelling-houses for the superintendants and inferior officers.

Deadman's Dock-yard.

Near the Victualling-house is Deadman's Dock-yard, the property of Sir Frederic Evelyn. It is described in the grant to Sir John as having a great depth of water, and as being the best private dock upon the river. Men of war of 74 guns are sometimes built here.

Project of making a harbour at Deptford.

During Cromwell's usurpation a project was set on foot by Sir Nicholas Crispe, of making a mole at Deptford, for the harbour of 200 sail or more to ride in 17 or 18 feet of water, without cable or anchor. The demesne lands of the manor (being about 200 acres, lying now within the parish of St. Paul) were purchased for that purpose at the price of 6000l. and a considerable sum of money was expended in erecting storehouses, and setting up a sluice. After the Restoration Sir Nicholas Crispe, joining with the Duke of Ormond, the Earl of Bath, and others, who were embarked with him in this undertaking, petitioned King Charles II. to grant them the land so purchased in fee-farm; it was stated in the petition that Sir Nicholas Crispe had formed this project principally with a view of ingratiating himself with the then ruling powers, that he might the better watch a favourable opportunity of bringing about his Majesty's restoration. Sir Charles Harbord, the King's surveyor, to whom the petition was referred, advised his Majesty by no means to grant the land in feefarm, but to offer a lease of 31 years, at a rent of 160l. per annum, with a fine of 2000l. (fn. 20) These terms, it is probable, were not accepted, for it does not appear that the projectors proceeded any farther with their design.


  • 1. A considerable quantity of asparagus is raised in this parish; which is famous also for its onions, raised principally for seed.
  • 2. Philipott's Survey, p. 161.
  • 3. Chronicle, temp. Hen. VII. f. 43.
  • 4. Lambard's perambulation, p. 469.
  • 5. Philipott's Survey, p. 160.
  • 6. The invention of the telegraph, which promises to be of much utility, especially in time of war, has been lately introduced into this kingdom; where it has been much improved upon by our countryman Lord Geo. Murray.
  • 7. Dugdale's Monast. vol. ii. p. 640.
  • 8. Ibid. p. 638, 639.
  • 9. Cart. 2 Edw. III. N° 1.
  • 10. Tanner's Notit. Monast. p. 561.
  • 11. Pat. 10 Eliz. pt. 8. May 4.
  • 12. From the information of Mr. Mitchell, vestry-clerk of this parish.
  • 13. See vol. i. p. 72; and the Appendix to this volume.
  • 14. P. 120, 121.
  • 15. Vol. i. p. 118, 119.
  • 16. Ancient inquisitions, and other records, in speaking of the manors in this neighbourhood, have described them sometimes in one county and parish, and sometimes in the other.
  • 17. Hasted, vol. i. p. 7.
  • 18. Inscription—" In memory of James Sayer, Esq. Vice Admiral of the White, son of John Sayer, Esq. and Katherine his wife, one of the daughters and coheirs of Rear Admiral Robert Hughes, and Lydia his wife, who all lie buried in the old church of this town, with many of their issue. He was a man of the strictest honour and integrity; an active and diligent officer. In the war of 1739, he had the thanks of the Assembly of Barbadoes for his disinterested conduct in the protection of their trade; and he first planted the British standard in the island of Tobago. In the war of 1756, he led the attacks, both at the taking of Senegal and Goree; and was commander in chief off the French coast at Belle Isle, at the time of making the peace, in 1763. As his life was most exemplary, he met death with a becoming fortitude, after a tedious and most painful illness, on the 29 of Oct. 1776, aged 56 years." Arms—Quarterly 1 and 4. G. a chevron between three seapies Arg.—Sayer. 2 and 3. Az. a lion ramp. O.—Hughes.
  • 19. Inscription— "She was an indulgent mother, and the best of wives, She brought into this world more than three thousand lives." This lady, who was an eminent midwife, gave a silver bason, for christenings, to this parish, and another to the parish of St. Nicholas.
  • 20. The circumstances above stated are taken from documents in the Land-Revenueoffice, obligingly communicated by William Harrison, Esq.