You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Dog & Bell’ tag.

Guest Post by BK

May Day in Lewisham

May Day in Lewisham

May Day in England is celebrated with any number of customs and festivities. Although there is a great deal of regional difference they usually celebrate the return of spring and summer with the greenery and flowers of the countryside. The usual term for this was ‘going a-Maying’ or ‘bringing in the May’ and initially this involved people going out into the country and returning with flowers and blossom to decorate the home.

Perhaps the grandest example of going a-Maying occurred in 1515 when Henry VIII and Catherine Of Aragon took a trip out from Greenwich Palace to Shooters Hill. In an elaborate charade some of The King’s Archers had disguised themselves as Robin Hood and his Merry Men. After discharging their arrows over the heads of the Royal Party they ‘captured’ the King and Queen and took them to their lair. A bower decorated with flowers. After a feast of venison and wine the couple were returned. On their way back they were met by ladies on floral chariots who sang songs in their praise until they arrived back at Greenwich to be met by cheering crowds and, of course, another feast.

A local custom that is being revived in that of Jack In The Green. Jack appeared in many towns throughout England but was particularly strong in London. He was traditionally a chimney sweep. He was completely covered in a wicker frame from his feet to a point one or two feet over his head and the frame would be fully festooned with flowers and greenery. Jack would often be accompanied by a makeshift band to whose music he would dance around. He also often had a Queen, usually a milkmaid, and various princes and princesses; When the custom started in the late 1700s they would have been child sweeps. As this strangely dressed bunch paraded down the street banging cans and shovels they collected money to tide them over the summer when demand for sweeps slackened.

The custom appears to have survived to about World War One. It is well documented in Lewisham and there are photographs in the Library Archive. A diary entry says:

“May Day, 1894, at Lewisham. In the High Street we saw a Jack with a Queen Of The May, two maidens proper, a man dressed as a woman, and a man with a piano organ. The organ was playing a quick tune and the Queen and the maidens danced around the Jack. The man-woman sometimes danced with the maidens, turned wheels and collected the pence.”

The Jack was a bottle-shaped case covered with ivy leaves and surmounted by a crown of paper roses. The man-woman had a Holland dress, his face was blackened and he had a Zulu hat trimmed with red.

An effort is being made to revive the tradition and on May Day a parade will leave the Dog and Bell in Deptford at noon and arriving at the Ashburnham Arms in Greenwich at 17:00. Further details here:

http://www.deptford-jack.org.uk/

Another local custom was that couples who wished to have good fortune in conceiving a baby would copulate whilst rolling down the hill in Greenwich Park on May Morning. I have not heard of any proposals to reinstate this admirable custom.

Olympia Slip Sheds

Olympia Slip Sheds

The World Monuments Fund announced 8th October that the Royal Naval Dockyard and John Evelyn’s Sayes Court Garden in Deptford is on their heritage sites at risk list. This prompted me to re-post an account of my visit back in February this year.

The last time I visited Deptford river front was on a walk from London Bridge to Greenwich along the Thames Path. The Deptford section had been distinctive because of the poor signage and state of the water front. It seemed a poor relation to Greenwich and Rotherhithe. Yet, Deptford is an important heritage site along the south bank of the River Thames. Originally known as The King’s Yard the site of the dockyard is now Convoy’s Wharf.

Deptford Strand

Prompted by the consultation on its future I ventured there again this time approaching from the DLR station at Deptford Bridge. On this route you pass the Dog and Bell pub which is listed by CAMRA as one of the top 25 pubs in London. I followed the signs to the Thames Pathway which takes you through Sayes Court Park.

Sayes Court was created by John Evelyn the 17th Century diarist and visited by Czar Peter the Great who came to study shipbuilding at the Deptford Dockyard. Much of the garden is buried beneath Convoy’s Wharf but what remains is a small municipal park. It was depressing to see that there was no board to inform the public of this once celebrated garden. Later I looked on Lewisham’s website only to find that it gave scant details of the park’s history.

Perimeter Fence Convoy's Wharf

Perimeter Fence Convoy’s Wharf

The Convoy’s Wharf site is cordoned off and prevents a clear route along the Thames Path. The Olympia Slip Shed is visible through the railings. These are listed and will remain in the scheme. Much of the remains of the dockyard are in this area. The only accessible part of the river front is Deptford strand. The information boards here are desperately in need of replacement and are difficult to read as time has worn the text. One of the canons is pointed enviously towards the Greenwich World Heritage site. With limited access to the historic parts of the area I did think that more could be done to inform and celebrate those areas that were open to the public.

Deptford Dockyard

There has been a long and contentious process in developing this area. The development of the site goes back to 2002 when News International applied to LB Lewisham for outline planning permission to erect residential units. In 2005 the site was acquired by Hutchinson Whampoa. In 2010 a further planning application was made. It was not well received by local people, historians and most other interested parties. In their response The Naval Dockyard Society stated:

“ NDS deplores the project’s high denisity of buildings which will constitute an unattractive intrusion into vistas along the River Thames, an historic route and the cause of the town’s existence, linking royal Deptford and Royal Greenwich. A high quality design should celebrate 500 years of maritime history.”

2013 is Deptford Dockyard’s 500th anniversary and consultation is just beginning on a revised masterplan. Let’s hope that these revisions do celebrate Deptford’s proud maritime past.

It would seem that I was far too optimistic and the developer has not done enough to preserve this heritage site.

Olympia Slip Sheds

Olympia Slip Sheds

The last time I visited Deptford river front was on a walk from London Bridge to Greenwich along the Thames Path. The Deptford section had been distinctive because of the poor signage and state of the water front. It seemed a poor relation to Greenwich and Rotherhithe. Yet, Deptford is an important heritage site along the south bank of the River Thames. Originally known as The King’s Yard the site of the dockyard is now Convoy’s Wharf.

Deptford Strand

Prompted by the consultation on its future I ventured there again this time approaching from the DLR station at Deptford Bridge. On this route you pass the Dog and Bell pub which is listed by CAMRA as one of the top 25 pubs in London. I followed the signs to the Thames Pathway which takes you through Sayes Court Park.

Sayes Court was created by John Evelyn the 17th Century diarist and visited by Czar Peter the Great who came to study shipbuilding at the Deptford Dockyard. Much of the garden is buried beneath Convoy’s Wharf but what remains is a small municipal park. It was depressing to see that there was no board to inform the public of this once celebrated garden. Later I looked on Lewisham’s website only to find that it gave scant details of the park’s history.

Perimeter Fence Convoy's Wharf

Perimeter Fence Convoy’s Wharf

The Convoy’s Wharf site is cordoned off and prevents a clear route along the Thames Path. The Olympia Slip Shed is visible through the railings. These are listed and will remain in the scheme. Much of the remains of the dockyard are in this area. The only accessible part of the river front is Deptford strand. The information boards here are desperately in need of replacement and are difficult to read as time has worn the text. One of the canons is pointed enviously towards the Greenwich World Heritage site. With limited access to the historic parts of the area I did think that more could be done to inform and celebrate those areas that were open to the public.

Deptford Dockyard

There has been a long and contentious process in developing this area. The development of the site goes back to 2002 when News International applied to LB Lewisham for outline planning permission to erect residential units. In 2005 the site was acquired by Hutchinson Whampoa. In 2010 a further planning application was made. It was not well received by local people, historians and most other interested parties. In their response The Naval Dockyard Society stated:

“ NDS deplores the project’s high denisity of buildings which will constitute an unattractive intrusion into vistas along the River Thames, an historic route and the cause of the town’s existence, linking royal Deptford and Royal Greenwich. A high quality design should celebrate 500 years of maritime history.”

2013 is Deptford Dockyard’s 500th anniversary and consultation is just beginning on a revised masterplan. Let’s hope that these revisions do celebrate Deptford’s proud maritime past.

Consultation Details

Thursday 28th February 3pm-9pm Charlotte Turner School, Benbow St. Deptford SE8 3HD

Saturday 2nd March 10am-3pm The Red Room, The Albany, Douglas Way, London SE8 4AG

More information is available on local blogs

http://deptforddame.blogspot.co.uk

http://carolineld.blogspot.co.uk/2010/02/londons-lost-garden.html

http://www.olddeptfordhistory.com/2009/12/map-of-deptford-strond.html

Categories

Pages

Twitter

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.