Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Interesting facts about Deptford from the book " Curiosities of Great Briton." By Thomas Dugdale, William Burnett

DEPTFORD was anciently denominated West Greenwich. From a small fishing village, it has risen to a large, flourishing, and populous town. The situation of this place, on the banks of the Ravensbourne, gave rise to its present name, originally spelr Depeford, from the deep ford, which has been superseded by a bridge over that river. It was also named Deptford Strond; an appellation afterwards solely appropriated to what is now called the lower town, included in the parish of Deptford St. Nicholas: the upper town is in that of Deptford St. Paul, which was constituted a distinct parish in 1730. A royal dock was established here, by Henry VIII., in the beginning of his reign. Since that period, the town has progressively increased; its population having augmented in the proportion of twenty to one, though it experienced a considerable check in 1665 and 1666, when nearly 900 persons died here of the plague. The manor was given by the Conqueror to Gilbert de Magnimot, who made it the head of his barony, and erected a castle here, every part of which has been long since buried in its own ruins. After passing through the hands of numerous possessors, the manor was resumed by the crown at the restoration. The manor-house, with its surrounding estate, which had obtained the name of Sayes Court, from its having been long held by the Says, became, in 1651, the residence of John Evelyn, Esq., the celebrated author of the Sylva; and to him, in 1663, Charles II. granted a new lease, at a reserved annual rent of 22s. 6d. This gentleman passed much of his time in retirement, " at this his favourite spot." His gardens are said to have been the wonder and admiration of the greatest men of his time: in the life of Lord Keeper Guidford, they are described as "most boscaresque; being, as it were, an examplar of his book of forest trees." The severe frost of the winter of the year 1682, did considerable damage here; but a more complete destruction was made by Peter the Great, to whom Mr. Evelyn lent bis house and grounds, whilst he was obtaining a knowledge of the science and practice of naval architecture in the adjoining dock-yard, in 1698. Mr. Evelyn died in 1706. The house and gardens were afterwards entirely neglected; and there is not now the least trace of either: the present workhouse was built on the site of the Charitable institutions.
Deptford, so named from a deep ford.
The manor of Sir John Evelyn, the author of Sylva.

Lamentable fire in 1652,
Great im provent for maritime purposes.
Dsptford. I former, in the year 1729. The estate, however, which includes the site « the present victualling-house, and of a large dock-yard, is still vested in the Evelyns. A lamentable fire happened at Deptford, in 1652; any nineteen years afterwards the lower town was inundated by a great flooi which rose to the height of ten feet in the streets near the river, so tha: the inhabitants were obliged to retire to the upper town in boats. The adjoining marshes were also overflowed, and about 700 sheep, with a great number of oxen, cows, &c. were destroyed. Sir Thomas Wyat lay = night and a day at Deptford, with his army, in the year 1553. The Royaidock, or King's-yard, has been greatly enlarged and improved since iti original establishment. It is managed under the immediate inspection of the navy board: the resident officers are a clerk of the cheque, a storekeeper, a master shipwright, and his assistants, a clerk of the survey, a master attendant, a surgeon, and various inferior officers. The number of artificers and labourers employed here is about 1,500: even in times of peace, the general number is upwards of 1,000. The whole extent of the yard includes about thirty-one acres, which are occupied by various buildings; two wet docks, a double and a single one; three slips for men of war; a basin, two mast ponds; a model-loft; mast-houses; a large smith's shop, with about twenty forges lor anchors; sheds for timber, &c The old store-house is a quadrangular pile, and appears to have consisted originally only of the range on the north side; where, on what was formerly the front of the building, is the date 1513, together with the initials H.R. in a cypher, and the letters A.X. for Anno Christi. The buildings on the east, west, and south sides of the quadrangle, have been erected at different times; and a double front, towards the north, was added in 1721. Another store-house, parallel to the above, and of the same length, having sail and rigging lofts, was completed a few years ago: and there is also a long range of smaller store-houses, that was built under the direction of Sir Charles Middleton, afterwards Lord Barham, about the year 1780. The other buildings consist of various workshops and houses for the officers, where some of the largest ships in the navy have been built. On the north of the King's-yard stands the victualling-office, sometimes called the Red-house, from its occupying the site of a large range of store-houses, constructed with red bricks, which was burnt down in July, 1639, together with all its stores. Being rebuilt, it was included in the grant of Sayes court to Sir John Evelyn, in 1726; and was then described as 870 feet in length, 35 feet wide, and containing 100 warehouses. These premises were for some time rented by the East India company; but being re-purchased of the Evelyns by the crown, a new victualling-house was built on the spot in 1745, to replace the old victualling-office on Tower-hill. This new building was also accidentally burnt in 1749, with great quantities of stores and provisions. The immense pile which now forms the victualling office, has been erected at I different times since that period; and consists of many ranges of building, I appropriated to the various establishments necessary in the important concern of victualling the navy. In addition to the Royal-dock, here are two large private yards for ship building, belonging to Messrs. Barnards and Roberts, where men of war, of seventy-four guns, are sometimes built. Here is also a large and commodious commercial dock, which was opened on the 30th of June, 1809. Itwas intended principally for the receptionof foreign merchantmen engaged in the Baltic trade. It was formerly known by the name of the Greenland dock; in which several alterations and improvements were made, and an entirely new range of store houses was erected. The Lord Mayor's barge, handsomely decorated, was the first to enter; the whole ceremony was conducted with much pomp and splendour: and, as a close of the proceedings, a party of about 150 persons partook of an elegant dinner in one of the store-houses. 'The town of Deptford contains two churches; the oldest is dedicated to St. Nicholas, from time immemorial,
I Commercial dock.trie patron of sea-faring men; and the other to St. Paul. St. Nicholas
church consists of a nave, chancel, and aisles, with an embattled tower of

flint and stone, of a date long prior to the body of the fabric, which was
rebuilt in 1697, on account of the great increase of inhabitants. In
the chancel, against the north wall, within the recess for the altar, is the
monument of Captain Edward Fenton, who accompanied Sir Martin
Frobisher in his second and third voyages, and had himself the command
of an expedition for the discovery of a north-west passage. Near this is
a tablet inscribed to Henry Roger Boyle, eldest son to Richard, Earl of |
Corke, who died at a school in Deptford, in 1615; and a neat mural
monument to the memory of George Shelvock, Esq., secretary of the
general post-office, and F.R.S., who, at a very early period of life, attended
his father in a voyage round the world. The tomb of Captain George
Shelvocke is near the east end of the chancel, on the outside; he was
descended of an ancient Shropshire family, and bred to the sea service under
Admiral Benbow. Against the east wall, to the north of the altar recess, is
the monument of Peter Pett, Esq., a master shipwright in the King's-yard,
whose family were long distinguished for their superior talents in ship-
I building; and who was himself the first inventor of that useful ship of war,
I a frigate: he died in 1652. On the opposite wall is a mural monument, with a
long inscription, in memory of Sir Richard Browne, Knt., of Sayes court,
who was " Governor of the United Netherlands, and was afterwards, by Queen
Elizabeth, made Clerk of the Green Cloth, in which honourable office he
continued under King James, till the time of his death, in May, 1604, aged
sixty-five years;" of Christopher Browne, Esq., his son, who died in
March, 1645, at the age of seventy; of Sir Richard Browne, knight and
baronet, only son of Christopher; and of their respective wives. Many
other monuments and inscriptions are in this church: among them a slab
in the pavement of the north aisle marks the burial-place of Mr. John
Benbow, eldest son of the gallant Admiral Benbow, who died at the age of
twenty-seven, November, 1708. The register of this parish records the
following instances of longevity: Maudlin Augur, buried in December,
1672, aged 106; Catherine Perry, buried in December, 1676, by her
own report, 110 years old; Sarah Mayo, buried in August, 1705, aged
102; and Elizabeth Wiborn, buried in December, 1714, in her 101st
year. The church of St. Paul is a handsome stone fabric, erected under
the provisions of certain acts passed in the ninth and tenth years of Queen
Anne, for the building of fifty new churches in and near London. It has
a well-proportioned spire at the west end : the roof is sustained by columns
of the Corinthian order; the pews are of Dutch oak, and the whole inte-
rior is neatly fitted up. On the north side of the altar, against the east
wall, is an elegant mural monument, by Nollekins, in memory of James
Sayer, Esq., Vice-Admiral of the White, son of John Sayer, and Catherine,
his wife, one of the daughters and co-heirs of Rear-Admiral Robert
Hughes, and Lydia, his wife, who all lie buried in the old church of this
town, with many of their issue. On the south side of the chancel is a
sumptuous monument, displaying a sarcophagus, surmounted by a large
urn of statuary marble, partly covered with a mantle, in memory of
Matthew Finch, gentleman, who died in 1745; and on the nprth side is
another splendid monument, in commemoration of Mary Finch, daughter
of the above, and wife to Richard Hanwell, of Oxford, gentleman, who
died in 1754. Among the tombs in the church-yard, is one in memory
of Margaret Hawtree, a famous midwife, who died in 1734, inscribed as
follows:

She was an indulgent mother, and the best of wives:

She brought into this world more than three thousand Uvea!
Mrs. Hawtree gave a silver basin, for christenings, to this parish, and

another to that of St. Nicholas. Mr. Isaac Blight, ship-breaker, of Green-
land-dock, who was killed by a pistol-shot, as he was sleeping in his
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chair in his back parlour, was also buried in this church-yard. A. man of

the name of Richard Patch, who had been taken into the employment of ,
the deceased, out of motives of charity, about three years before, and was
his confidential servant, was tried on suspicion of the murder, convicted
upon a chain of the most satisfactory evidence, and executed on the 8th
of April, 1806. For a long time great interest was excited by the
trial and execution of this man. The register records the burial of
Margaret Haley, who died in March, 1739-40, aged 100, and upwards.
The rectory-house is a handsome edifice. This parish contains about
1DO0 acres of lands; of which from 900 to 1100 are marsh and
pasture; about 550 arable; ani 250 occupied by market gardeners,
who are famed for the growth of asparagus and onions. Here are
several meeting-houses for Methodists, Independents, Quakers, Ana-,
baptists, and other sects. In this parish stands one of the telegraphs I
which communicate with the admiralty and Dover. The Surrey and'
Croydon canals also pass through and communicate with each other
in this parish. The corporation or society of the Trinity-house, the
meetings of which are now held in a handsome building on Tower-hill,
was originally established at Deptford, in the reign of Henry VIII., and
incorporated by the name of " The Master, Warden, and Assistants, of the
Guild or Fraternity of the most glorious and undivided Trinity, and of St.
Clement, in the parish of Deptford Strond." The ancient hall, in which
the members continued to assemble at this place, was pulled down about
the year 1787, on the erection of the Trinity-house in London; but here
are still two hospitals belonging to the corporation. The old hospital,
which adjoins to St. Nicholas church-yard, was founded in the time of
Henry VIII., and originally contained twenty-one apartments; bat on its
being pulled down and rebuilt in 1788, the number was increased to
twenty-five. That called Trinity-hospital, which stands in Church-street,
was erected towards the end of the 17th century, on a piece of ground
given for the purpose, in 1672, by Sir Richard Brown, the younger,
baronet, of Sayes court, who was an elder brother and master of the
Trinity-house. It consists of fifty-six apartments, forming a spacious
quadrangle, in the centre of which is placed a statue of Captain
Richard Maples, who, in 1680, bequeathed £1,300 towards the building.
The pensioners in both hospitals consist of decayed pilots, and masters of
ships, or their widows: the annual allowance to the widows and single
men is about £18; the married men receive about £28 yearly. Here are
numerous charitable establishments. In those founded previously to the
year 1730, both parishes have a joint interest. In Butt-lane is a charitv-
school, under the direction of twelve trustees, endowed for the education
and clothing of 100 boys and girls, who are apprenticed out. The school
house was erected about the year 1722, on a piece of ground given for the
purpose, by Mr. Robert Gransden; whose daughter, Mrs. Mary Gransden,
in 1719, bequeathed £80 towards the building; and also gave a farm in
Essex, and the ground rents of two tenements in St. Bartholomew's-lane,
London (since sold to the Directors of the Bank for £1,300), towards the
endowment of the school: the whole expense of the building amounted to
about £740. Besides the children educated in this school, between twenty
and thirty others are taught elsewhere, with the produce of different bene-
factions. A bequest of £200 was made by Mr. John Addey, a master
builder in the King's-yard, in the year 1606, for the purchase of land.
With this sum the Gravelpit-field, Deptford, was bought, the annual
rents of which now amount to more than £280. The Gun-tavern in this
town is said to have been the residence of the Earl of Nottingham, Lord
Admiral to Queen Elizabeth, whose arms, encircled by the garter, are
carved in wood over the chimney-piece of a large dining-room. Sir Thomas
Smith, who was sent ambassador to the court of Russia by James I., had
a magnificent house at Deptford, which was burnt down on the 20th of

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January, 1613. Cowley, the poet, was also a resident here for a considerable period. In the year 1753, an act was passed for paving and cleaning the streets, and for the better relief and employment of the poor. The bridge over the Ravensbourne, which was formerly of wood, but rebuilt of stone at the sole cost of Charles I., in 1C28, has been rendered more commodious of late years, at the expense of the parishioners. Here, previously to the battle of Blackheath, in the reign of Henry VII., was a skirmish between Lord Dawbeney's troops and "certayne archers of the rebelles; whose arrowes, as is reported, were in length a full yerde." The population of this town are chiefly employed in the dock-yards, or engaged in maritime pursuits. An extensive manufacture of earthenware, called Deptford ware, is successfully caried on here.

1 comment:

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