Monday, May 27, 2013

The St Paul's Chapel (destroyed), Rotherhithe 1850 - 1955

Drawing copyright National Library of New Zealand
The Anglican St Paul's Chapel, a chapel-of-ease to St Mary's Rotherhithe, was built in 1855 by  William Beatson and was badly damaged in the Second World War, perhaps destroyed.  There is some confusion about when it was finally demolished, but although it seems to have been decommissioned in 1955 records indicate that some part of it was in use on the site until the 1970s. 

St Paul's was located at Ram Alley, later Beatson Street, close to Surrey Canal School which later became St Pauls School (TQ360804). Today it is the site of Peter Hills with St Mary and St Paul School. William Beatson's descendents live in New Zealand and the plans of the church are registered with the National Library of New Zealand (rightt). 

Some lovely water-colour diagrams of the Chapel can be found on the National Library of New Zealand website at:

In the 1912 "A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4" it is described as follows:
The church of ST. PAUL in Beatson Street, a chapel of ease to the parish church, consists of a chancel, nave of five bays, north vestry and south porch. It is built of yellow stock brick with stone detail, and is designed in 13th-century style with an effectively high-pitched slated roof and small lancet windows. It was built in 1850. There is an ample churchyard now used as a small park. (

The architect, William Beatson, was a member of the successful shipbuilding company and family business John Beatson, and had shipbuilding interests in his own right.  He sketched the tragic mastless remains of the Temeraire (immortalized in Turner's "Fighting Temeraire") as she sat in Rotherhithe waiting to be broken up by the John Beatson yeard in 1838 (the sketch can be seen on one of my earlier posts here: And in fact, the chapel was renovated in the late 1800s using timbers salvaged from the HMS Temeraire.

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