St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden

Although it is a famous landmark and an architectural curiosity worth inspecting, I found St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, faintly ridiculous. It is modelled on an early Roman temple from the Etruscan period, but its portico and overhanging pediment appear too large and disproportionate, as though a ten-year-old with a crayon were drawing a classical temple for some history project. Inside, it is a simple rectangle, lacking the crevices and side chapels a medieval church was like to possess.

It was the first church to be built in London since the reformation, in 1633. The proprietor of the land was Lord Bedford, a known puritan, who instructed the architect, Inigo Jones, to build it plainly, "not much better than a barn". Jones was not known for his puritanism, and replied that he would build the earl "the finest barn in Europe". As barns go, I think it rather impressive; as a church, slightly absurd. Yet it was from Covent Garden's pulpit that the great puritan Thomas Manton preached and ministered until his ejection in 1662.

Whether we work from a grand church or plain chapel, from a Palladian temple or a straw-strewn barn, may we preach faithfully, pray fearlessly and worship fervently. Wrote Mr Manton:

"There is in man a mint always at work: his mind coining evil thoughts, his heart, evil desires and carnal emotion; and his memory is the closet and storehouse wherein they are kept.”

“Excess in meat and drink clouds the mind, chokes good affections, and provokes lust. Many a man digs his own grave with his teeth.”

“Self-love may lead us to prayers, but love to God excites us to praises.”