The foundation stone of King Henry VIII’s dockyard is set to return home to Deptford and rally opponents of the Convoys Wharf regeneration plan.
The stone was re-discovered during a visit to University College London by Chris Maiezka, member of community group Deptford Is. It will be reinstated at the original Royal Dockyards, just weeks before the Mayor of London is expected to decide on the fate of regeneration plans for the site.
Maiezka said: “I recognised the stone from a drawing that was done in 1954 and held at the National Archives. I’d been studying the drawings just a few weeks prior to encountering the stone.”
The sophisticated brickwork was given to UCL after the demolition of Deptford after the Second World War. It was then left behind a wall when the Geography Department moved in 2005.
The stone belongs to the naval storehouse built in 1513 bears the initials of Henry VIII and his wife Katherine of Aragon, linked by a marriage knot.
Jonathan Foyle, Chief Executive Officer of the World Monuments Fund Britain, explained the historical importance of the discovery: “This knot shows the Anglo-Spanish alliance which marks the moment when the navy was created. Deptford is central to this and we are exited to see how this important monument can improve the quality of the scheme for the site.”
He added: “We hope that UCL’s agreement to return the stone will influence the Mayor’s decision and that the cultural heritage [of the site] is fully considered in this process.”
Initial plans to redevelop the site, now known as Convoys Wharf, were put forward by Hutchinson Whampoa, a Hong Kong-based investment company.
The final decision on the regeneration plan, valued at more than £1bn, was taken over by Boris Johnson from Lewisham Council in October last year. His verdict on the future of the site is expected later this month.
Peter Guillery, historian from the Survey of London added: “This is a good moment for the stone to be rediscovered. It is a piece of Deptford coming back to its original site and it reminds us of the value of its history. I hope it will help to persuade the Mayor to reject the construction scheme”.
Maiezka maintains the same hope after his discovery: “Boris Johnson now has the opportunity to reject the monstrous leviathan that is the scheme proposed by Hutchison Whampoa and to assist Sir Terry Farrell in keeping his publicly declared promise to Deptford to redesign a master plan from the ground up.”
Deptford Is started a petition to reject the development plans and more than 1500 people have signed so far.