Deptford consists of two ecclesiastical parishes just downstream from Rotherhithe, and Dew’s work is one of the better 19th c histories of a Thames-side community. Despite the two parishes, it is not overburdened with ecclesiastical history, and lengthy recitals of no doubt worthy but sadly boring clergy. The book recognizes that Deptford was primarily a maritime community, with strong Royal Navy connections, demonstrated by the brief biographies of prominent naval officers associated with the town and the coverage given to Trinity House of Deptford Strond, the Royal Dockyard, the East India Company and the Royal Victualling Yard. Private shipbuilders and engineering firms are not neglected, and there is a lengthy section dealing with the famous diarist, John Evelyn, who resided at Sayes Court.
Poor Evelyn was persuaded to lease his house and the gardens of which he was inordinately proud, to Czar Peter the Great and his suite, during His Majesty’s visit to England to learn about shipbuilding. Despite working hard in the Royal Dockyard during the week with his own hands, and sampling different forms of worship (including the Quaker Meeting House) on Sundays, Peter had enough energy left to indulge in drink fuelled horseplay with his companions. Sadly this included racing each other round the property in wheelbarrows, destroying hedges and flower beds in the process.
This is not only a good history, but an enjoyable read. This is a big file, and will take some time to download.