In the 17th century, diarist John Evelyn lived at the now-demolished Sayes Court and was upset when Peter the Great, who came to study shipbuilding, trashed a fine holly hedge in his manicured garden.
Remnants of this rich history can still be seen today. Albury Street is a row of early 18th-century houses with ornately decorated porches, and there are even older houses in Tanner’s Hill.
St Paul’s Deptford, the work of architect Thomas Archer, is one of the finest baroque churches in the country, and tucked away down a back street opposite the soon-to-be redeveloped Convoy’s Wharf there is the Master Shipwright’s House, a historic riverside mansion that was on the market two years ago — it didn’t sell — for £5 million.
Deptford has benefited from the presence of Goldsmiths College at New Cross, which spawned the YBA generation of artists such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, and a lively music scene that has produced bands such as Klaxons.
Flats and houses for sale in New Cross: New Cross has fine semi-detached and terrace four- and five-bedroom houses in the Telegraph Hill conservation area running up the hill south of New Cross Road.
There are smaller, three-bedroom, flat-fronted early Victorian terrace cottages in the St John’s conservation area between Lewisham Way and Brookmill Road.
Flats and houses for sale in Deptford: Deptford is dominated by council estates but there are also one-, two- and three-bedroom new-build flats.
Best roads: the Telegraph Hill conservation area roads such as Jerningham, Pepys, Erlanger and Waller Roads are the most desirable.
What’s new: Galliard (020 7620 1500) has two new developments. The Distillery on the corner of Brookmill Road and Deptford Bridge, on the site of the old Seager gin distillery, offers apartments from £235,000 for a one-bedroom property to £355,000 for two bedrooms.
New Capital Quay on Creek Road, overlooking Deptford Creek, has off-plan sales ranging from £285,000 for a one-bedroom flat to £1.9 million for a penthouse. Greenwich Creekside (020 8694 8186) is a development on Creek Road near the junction with Deptford Church Street by Telford Homes. Prices range from £235,000 for a one-bedroom flat to £535,000 for a three-bedroom flat.
Delta (08448 114334) is a development of 38 studios, one- and two-bedroom flats in Creek Road by Barratt Homes. Prices range from £190,000 for a one-bedroom flat to £307,000 for a three-bedroom flat. St Catherine’s Place (020 3326 1550) is a development of nine four- and five-bedroom houses in Jerningham Road, by St James, built in the style of the Telegraph Hill conservation area. Prices range from £975,000 to £1.15 million.
Developers Hutchison Whampoa are consulting local people on a new masterplan to be prepared by Sir Terry Farrell for the massive Convoy’s Wharf riverside site, between Evelyn Street and the river, which is likely to have more than 3,500 new homes.
Up and coming: three- and four-bedroom Victorian houses around Deptford Park in roads such as Scawen Road sell for £300,000 to £400,000.
Schools: Lewisham council got its Building Schools for the Future programme under way before education minister Michael Gove axed the project. There are fine new school buildings for Tidemill Academy primary school in Deptford, for Deptford Green secondary school (co-ed ages 11 to 16) in New Cross, and all-through school Prendergast Vale (co-ed ages three to 16) which opens in September on the site of Lewisham Bridge primary school in Deptford.
The pioneering “outdoor” nursery, the Rachel McMillan, reaches its centenary in 2014 and is rated “outstanding” by the Government’s education watchdog Ofsted. Many children arrive at local primary schools not speaking English. Nonetheless the following primary schools are judged “outstanding”: Tidemill Academy and Grinling Gibbons in Clyde Street.
Haberdashers’ Aske’s in New Cross (ages three to 18) is also judged “outstanding” and is proposing to open a new free school, Hatcham Temple Grove, to provide extra primary places. Addey & Stanhope (co-ed ages 11 to 16) is judged “good”. Many young people after GCSE go to Lewisham College which is also judged “outstanding”.
Shops and restaurants: Deptford Market and Deptford High Street serve the multicultural local community. This is where the Deptford Project, a café, music and cinema venue, is based in an old railway carriage. Lately, two new independent coffee bars have opened — the Waiting Room and Deli X.
The shops in New Cross are clustered on New Cross Road close to Goldsmiths College. Cafe Crema is a popular vegetarian café; New Cross House is a gastropub specialising in pizzas, and the London Particular is the best local restaurant. Prangsta sells recycled vintage, the Allotment is a fairly new fruit and veg shop with a deli counter, and Dig This Nursery is the retail outlet of a nursery in Welling. The Hill Station is a community-run café at the top of the hill between the two Telegraph Hill parks.
* MORE ON THE BOROUGH OF LEWISHAM:
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Open space: Greenwich Park is the best local park. The Thames Path here is a disappointment as the way is currently barred for much of the route through Deptford by Convoy’s Wharf.
Leisure and the arts: The Albany, off Deptford High Street, is a long-standing local community arts centre. Wavelengths in Giffin Street is the local council-owned swimming pool.
Travel: Deptford and New Cross are well connected to the commuter train and DLR network with overground trains on the East London Line at New Cross and New Cross Gate stations. Trains from these stations, Deptford and St John’s, run to London Bridge in under 10 minutes and there are DLR stations at Deptford Bridge and Elverson Road. All stations are in Zone 2 with an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costing £1,168.
Council: Lewisham (Labour controlled); Band D council tax for the 2012/2013 year is £1,348.83.
Average prices: buying flats and houses in Deptford and New Cross
One-bedroom flat: £170,000
Two-bedroom flat: £219,000
Two-bedroom house: £246,000
Three-bedroom house: £317,000
Four-bedroom house: £662,000
Average prices: renting in Deptford and New Cross
One-bedroom flat: £120 to £340 a week
Two-bedroom flat: £230 to £430 a week
Three-bedroom house: £330 to £550 a week
Four-bedroom house: £450 to £650 a week