Deptford

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Deptford
OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
Administration
Borough:Lewisham
County:Greater London
Region:Greater London
Nation:England
Other
Ceremonial County:Greater London
Traditional County:Kent
Post Office and Telephone
Post town:LONDON
Postcode:SE8
Dialling Code:020

Deptford is an area of the London Borough of Lewisham, on the south bank of the River Thames in south-east London. It takes its name ('Deep Ford') from its position where the road to London from Dover and the channel ports cross the Thames tributary, the River Ravensbourne (the tidal reach of which is also known as Deptford Creek).

The pilgrimage route to Canterbury from London, followed by the pilgrims in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", crosses the Ravensbourne at Deptford and it is mentioned in the Prologue to the Reeve's Tale.

History

The Battle of Deptford Bridge took place on 17 June 1497 on a site adjacent to the River Ravensbourne. Rebels from Cornwall, led by Michael An Gof, had marched on London aiming to free Cornwall of its Norman rulers. Unable to muster support from people in Kent (the focus of Jack Cade's rebellion of 1450), they were soundly beaten by the King's forces.

In 1513, King Henry VIII decided to site a naval dockyard at Deptford, and this remained in operation until March 1869. It was here that Russian Tsar Peter the Great studied shipbuilding for three months in 1698. He and some of his fellow Russians stayed at Sayes Court, the manor house of Deptford, where the absent owner was the diarist John Evelyn. Evelyn inherited the house when he married the daughter of Sir Richard Browne in 1652. On his return to England at the Restoration, Evelyn had laid out meticulously planned gardens in the French style or hedges and parterres. He was seriously upset that Peter's friends got drunk and using a wheelbarrow with Peter in it succeeded in ramming their way through a fine holly hedge. Both house and garden have disappeared, but the site, still called "Sayes Court" and entered from Evelyn Street near Deptford High Street, is a run-down public park.

St Nicholas Church, the parish church, dates back to the 14th century but the current building is 17th century. The entrance to the churchyard features a set of skull-and-bones on top of the posts. A plaque on the north wall commemorates playwright Christopher Marlowe, murdered in a nearby tavern on - according to the church's own records - 1 June 1593.

Diarist John Evelyn lived in Deptford at Sayes Court from 1652 (Peter the Great was a tenant there after Evelyn had moved to Surrey in 1694; in its grounds was a cottage at one time rented by master wood carver Grinling Gibbons). Part of the estates around the house were purchased in 1742 for the building of the Admiralty Victualling Yard, later (1858) renamed the Royal Victoria Yard. This massive facility included warehouses, a bakery, a cattleyard/abattoir and sugar stores. It closed in 1960.

Its railway station is one of the oldest suburban stations in the world, being built (c.1836-38) as part of the first suburban service (the London and Greenwich Railway), between London Bridge and Greenwich. Close to Deptford Creek is a Victorian pumping station built in 1864, part of the massive London sewerage system designed by civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette.

Deptford Today

Deptford is being gradually re-developed and is a ethnicly mixed neighbourhood of London with a lively street market and High Street. In February 2005, Deptford High Street was described as “the capital's most diverse and vibrant high street” by Yellow Pages business directory, using a unique mathematical formula. A large former industrial site by the Thames called Convoy's Wharf is scheduled to be redeveloped shortly. This will involve the construction of around 3,500 new homes and an extension of the town centre northwards towards the river.

The Albany Theatre has a lively community arts programme. The Laban Dance Centre, opened in February 2003 and designed by Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, is an award-winning new building by Deptford Creek.

Deptford was also one of the first areas in south-east London to be served by a 'bendy bus' route. These long, articulated vehicles are superseding some double-decker buses within greater London, offering easier access and faster boarding times due to multiple door sets.

Transport

Nearest places:

Nearest tube or DLR stations:

Nearest railway stations:

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