Tudor naval storehouse at Convoys Wharf
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 21-Oct-2021 at 16:53:02.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Greater London Authority
- Lewisham (London Borough)
- Non Civil Parish
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 37153 78172
Reasons for Designation
Deptford Dockyard is one of the earliest Royal Naval dockyards. The first, founded at Portsmouth by Henry VII in 1496, was of relatively simple form centred around a dry dock of timber construction, where the first purpose-built warships, including the Mary Rose, were built at Portsmouth. Not long after it was established, however, this dockyard was already superseded in importance by those at Woolwich and Deptford, founded in 1512 and 1513 respectively. Although these dockyards were also initially of simple form, they soon developed with a series of both wet and dry docks and, at Deptford, a storehouse which enabled ships to be fully fitted out on the site. Deptford and Woolwich can thus be seen to have been home to the development of the Royal Navy during the 16th century. From the late 16th and through the 17th century, Deptford and Woolwich were in turn superseded in importance by Chatham in Kent, which was more strategically located for action on the North Sea during the Anglo-Dutch Wars. Wars with the French during the 18th century led to a concentration of naval activity in the English Channel and the consequent development of naval dockyards at Portsmouth and Plymouth. Through lack of later development, the layout of the dockyard at Deptford remained largely unaltered from about 1700 until its infilling in the late 19th century. Naval storehouses were created for the storage of materials used in the building and fitting of ships at the dockyard, and for supplying the fleet both at home and at naval stations overseas. Stores would include raw materials and goods such as timber, iron, tar, lead, glass, hemp and paint, and ready equipment such as sails, masts and rigging. Storehouses took on a similar form whether used for general stores or for specialised contents relating to a particular activity, such as sail-making or smithing. They are typically of simple rectangular plan, with internal cross-walls to separate the materials stored and for the provision of a storekeeper's office. Storage was often provided over two principal storeys with additional storage at cellar and attic levels. Construction was normally of brick or stone in order to minimise fire risk; some storehouses included vaulted undercrofts for the storage of particularly flammable materials. To safeguard the security of the stores, access was usually limited to a single ground-floor entrance; from the early 18th century, however, some storehouses were provided with external access to the upper floors via wall cranes. The development of quadrangular storehouse complexes also allowed secure outdoor storage in a central courtyard. While earlier storehouses were built to the instructions of the resident yard officer, storehouses from the late 18th century were usually designed by Navy Board architects. The buried remains of the Tudor storehouse at Deptford are the earliest known remains of a naval storehouse in England; no other storehouse remains of Tudor date are known to survive. The earliest storehouse still standing above ground, at Chatham, dates from 1723, while the majority of standing naval storehouses date from the later 18th century. Although the remains of the storehouse at Deptford are not visible above ground, the below ground remains of the building, including the undercroft and buttresses, survive in very good condition and have been little altered by later activity. Limited archaeological excavation has demonstrated a high level of survival for buried deposits, and internal structural features such as early floors are believed to survive largely intact. Buried remains will also include artefactual and environmental material which will give an insight into industrial and economic activity on the site. A margin of 1m around the building will ensure that the archaeological relationship of this structure to adjacent features of national importance will be preserved.
The monument includes the remains of a Tudor naval storehouse at Deptford
Dockyard, a Royal Naval dockyard founded in 1513. Beyond the area of the
scheduling, the dockyard, which remained in use until the mid-19th
century, extends over an area of at least 16ha along the Thames waterfront
north west of St Nicholas's Church. The site, which is now occupied by
Convoys Wharf, includes an extensive series of buried remains, the river
wall which is thought to be medieval in origin, and the Olympia Building
of 1846-7. The Olympia Building is a Listed Building Grade II.
Deptford Dockyard was founded by Henry VIII and is situated 1.5km upriver
of his palace at Greenwich. The dockyard is thought to occupy the site of
an earlier shipyard, referred to in documentary sources of the early 15th
century, which had been engaged by Henry V for the rebuilding and
refitting of royal ships. The storehouse and Great Dock are believed to
have been built in 1513, shortly followed in 1517 by the Basin, which was
modelled from an earlier pond. A documentary source of 1517 refers to the
floating of the Mary Rose in the Basin, along with other famous ships of
the time. Additional storehouses were hired in 1547, and in 1574 the Great
Dock was rebuilt. In 1581 a new brick-built dock was constructed near the
storehouse to house the Golden Hind, in which Francis Drake had made his
historic circumnavigation of the globe in 1577-80. As the first Englishman
to achieve the circumnavigation, Drake was knighted by Elizabeth I on
board the Golden Hind at Deptford on 4 April 1581. The ship subsequently
served as a visitor attraction at the dockyard before finally collapsing
there more than 70 years later. Many of the ship's timbers were removed as
souvenirs and it is unknown whether other fragments of the ship may
survive within buried deposits at the dockyard.
During the late 16th century, throughout the 17th century and most of the
18th century, the dockyard was steadily enlarged with the addition of a
series of mastponds, wharfs and slips with associated storehouses and
other buildings. During the 18th century the dockyard was employed in the
fitting out of a number of well known vessels, including Captain Cook's
Endeavour and Discovery, as well as ships used in Nelson's campaigns. From
the late 18th century, however, increased silting along this part of the
Thames, and an increase in the size of warships, limited the size of
vessels which could reach the dockyard and resulted in a reduction in
shipbuilding at the site. In 1821 it was used for small maintenance work
and shipping naval supplies only, and in 1830-44 activity was limited to
shipbreaking. There was a brief revival of shipbuilding in the 1840s when
the dockyard was reopened for the construction of small warships. It is to
this period that the Olympia Building belongs, constructed in 1846-7 to
cover nos 2 and 3 slips which were rebuilt in stone at this time.
In 1869 the dockyard was finally closed and the site sold for use as
London's Foreign Cattle Market. From this time the below ground features
of the dockyard were progressively infilled. During World War I the site
was used for military storage, and during World War II it suffered some
bomb damage, although most standing structures remained in situ. Final
clearance of most of the standing buildings took place between about 1952
and 1975. During the later 20th century the site was partly overlain by
modern warehouses used for the storage of paper for the newspaper
The storehouse constructed in 1513 took the form of a rectangular
building, approximately 50m long and 10m wide, aligned north west-south
east. It was constructed of brick with an undercroft; a map of 1623
indicates that at that date there were two storeys above ground, while a
plan of 1688-98 suggests that an attic storey and chimney stack were also
added. Limited archaeological excavation of the brick foundations in 2000
identified the buried remains of the north east wall, surviving below
ground to a height of at least 2.1m, measuring 1.2m-1.7m wide at the base
and tapering upwards to 0.72m. At a height of 1.44m above the base of the
wall an 18th century timber floor was discovered; archaeological layers
beneath this floor are thought to include the remains of earlier floor
surfaces of the 16th and 17th centuries. One of the external brick
buttresses which supported the building was also revealed during
excavation. The presence of buttresses reflects the relative instability
of the ground upon which the storehouse was built.
Documentary sources of the 17th century indicate that a series of
adjoining buildings were added to the original storehouse at this time,
including an office and additional stores. A north-south range added to
the western end before 1623 had already been replaced by a new storehouse
before 1698, and further storehouses were added to the north and south
sides. In the first half of the 18th century this complex of buildings was
largely rebuilt in quadrangular form, extending southwards from, and
incorporating the original structure. Parts of the quadrangle were
demolished in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, and the remainder
received some war damage in 1940 and 1943. However, the original Tudor
range seems to have remained intact until 1952 when those parts of it
still standing above ground were demolished. Many of the bricks salvaged
from the demolition were reused to repair Hampton Court Palace, and an
ogee-arched niche containing an inscribed foundation stone was re-erected
inside the Department of Computer Science at University College, London.
By 1984 the rest of the storehouse complex had also been demolished. The
scheduling includes the buried remains of the Tudor storehouse, together
with a margin of 1m considered essential for its support and preservation.
The buried remains of the later parts of the storehouse complex, and those
of the other features of the royal dockyard such as the Great Dock and
other docks (including that which contained the Golden Hind), the Basin,
mastponds, slips, wharfs and river wall, together with their associated
buildings and working surfaces, also include remains of national
importance. These are considered to be more appropriately managed through
planning controls and are not therefore included in the scheduled area.
The Olympia Building (appropriately managed through its status as a Listed
Building) is not included in the scheduling.
All modern ground surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath them is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing