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ing, owners of ships perhaps, who had them built to their design, the carving being done
by the ships' carvers of the district. There was a flourishing school of naval carvers at that
period, largely located in Rotherhithe in the early eighteenth century. Why this street of
fine houses should have been built here is otherwise a mystery, and it is certainly curious
that the style of carving should so closely resemble the stylised carving on ships' figure-
heads: one of the figures holds a chart and another a pair of dividers. The interiors of the
houses have a narrow entrance hall, panelled like most of the rooms on the ground floor,
and have an arch midway between the street door and the staircase. Many of these stair-
cases are remarkably fine, with exquisitely designed mouldings to the handrail and turned
balustrades, both spiral and circular. Albury Street is the only part of Deptford to retain
this eighteenth-century quality; nearly all the rest has gone, except for the Baroque church
of St Paul. St Paul's Church is behind Albury Street, and was designed by Thomas Archer,
an assistant of Wren, and dates from 1712 to 1730. St Paul's like the other, more famous
one, has an air of authority and complete assurance about it. There are great staircases of
a sort that might form a fitting background to a masque, huge pilasters, and a semicircular
portico with massive Tuscan columns contrasting with the delicacy and formality of the
steeple. It has in full measure those scenic qualities which, as I have said, are the hallmark
of great architecture, together with a subtle melancholy feeling difficult to describe.
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