London's Hidden History
A brisk stroll from the station turn right up Creek Road and over Deptford Creek Bridge, right into Greenwich Quay. Is the walk worth it - yes matey! For you will discover on the riverside a massive monument to Peter the Great!
Now Peter was the first Czar to leave Russia - that was in 1697 and he came to Deptford to learn shipbuilding in the enormous Royal Naval Dockyard. Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh and Captain Cook used Deptford as the base for their expeditions. Francis Drake was knighted here by Queen Elizabeth I in 1581, and Raleigh threw down his cloak over a puddle so Queen Bess would not get her tiny feet wet - cor wot a gent!
Czar Peter, six feet seven tall, and rented John Evelyn's house in Sayes Court, alas no longer there just a Mulberry tree. Evelyn was a writer and diarist like Pepys, by the way Pepys, whose full time job was working for the Royal Navy often visited Deptford in the 1660s. Bet he didn't wear his new periwig!
If he did and met Peter the Great he would have had it knocked off! Why? Because Peter was described as "right nasty" by Evelyn. Not only did the Czar wreck furniture in his house he but ruined his prize holly hedges by pushing his Russian mates through them on a wheelbarrow. What for? For a laugh! Russian humour!
Sir Christopher Wren was ordered by King William III to send Peter a bill for 350 pounds, a fortune then! Clearly no grudge as the Russian people paid for the new monument, from Russia with love - see it!
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