Sayes Court was the ancient manor house of Deptford. There was a building on the site from the 12th century. However, the building shown here (originally the St Nicholas Workhouse) dates from 1729. It was demolished c.1930.
This picture depicts one of the old parish workhouses that served the local poor in south London. In 1777 the parish of St Nicholas was known to have 130 inmates. The Poor-law amendments in 1834 stated that "no able-bodied person was to receive money or other help from Poor Law Authorities except in a workhouse". Despite the workhouse being considered a harsh environment, one observer of Greenwich's poor was to note: "It is curious to notice the effect that the workhouse regime has in prolonging the lives of those who may have often survived hard buffetings in the world. Anxiety and care concerning the future are thrown off at the entrance to the house, and the inmates are henceforth placed under conditions more favourable to health and longevity than they have ever before experienced".