Deptford has a strong South London identity due to its rich history, particularly its maritime heritage. In the mid-16th to the late 19th century it was home to Deptford Dockyard, the first Royal Navy Dockyard, but sadly as the area declined all the docks closed down, with the last one shutting in 2000. An anchor used to sit at the end of Deptford Broadway, but for many locals its removal marked the beginning of the area’s gentrification. Nevertheless it plays a significant part in London’s history; Deptford High Street even marks the spot where the Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe was murdered after disputing a bar tab. If you’re interested in visiting a South London area packed full of British history, here are the top things to see and do in Deptford.
Tuck into a meat-free burger at The Waiting Room
Bar, Coffee Shop, British, Vegan, $$$
The Waiting Room is an all-veggie and vegan café located in the heart of Deptford, just a stone’s throw away from the station. Most famous for its mouthwatering and wholesome menu, it offers a variety of hearty dishes including meat-free burgers and hotdogs. Or if you fancy a snack, it also boasts sweet treats that go perfect with a cuppa such as vegan lemon and blueberry loaf, carrot cake and orange crumble cake. This small and understated hangout is one of Deptford’s hidden gems with a real focus on hearty vegetarian cuisine.
Winemakers is loved by Deptford locals and South London foodies alike and its low-key exterior blends in well with the rest of the shops on Deptford High Street. Situated on the quieter end of the high street towards the river, the unassuming wine bar and restaurant (located at the back) is an offshoot of Farrindgon’s Winemakers Club; a popular wine importer, shop and bar. Winemakers utilises its excellent knowledge of vino and offers a simple menu or sharing plates to complement the wines on offer, including crab croquetas, Lincolnshire Poacher soufflé and deep fried plaice. This stripped-back venue has a real focus on great wine and tasty sharing plates, if you’re a London foodie, don’t miss this underrated spot.
The Albany is a unique performing arts space, with a history dating back to the 19th century. The arts centre embodies the cultural diversity and creative mix of South East London crowds and boasts an eclectic programme of events, from theatre workshops to poetry readings. Situated just moments away from Deptford station, the creative venue has four performance spaces with a capacity of 300 seated and 500 for standing events.
Designed by Thomas Archer and built in the early 16th century, at a time when the area was growing in literate, skilled workers who were drifting away from the established church. The construction of a new church, now known as St Paul’s, was an attempt to lure Deptford locals back into the Anglican community. The church is built in a traditional Roman Baroque style (Archer’s signature design) and one of the building’s most unusual features is the cylindrical tower with a steeple. A mark of Deptford’s unique London history, the beautiful baroque church is certainly worth a visit.
If you’re looking to experience true cockney cuisine then look no further than Deptford’s Manze’s; a traditional pie and mash shop that serves authentic East End food such as jellied eels. The long-standing shop has been owned by the Manze family for over 100 years and their secret pie recipe has been handed down through the generations. Every pie is hand-made, fresh each day and served with fluffy mashed potatoes and a signature parsley sauce. For a true taste of London, stop by Manze’s for a hearty pie with all the trimmings.
Sample the selection of Vietnamese restaurants on Deptford High Street
Deptford High Street is home to a great selection of Vietnamese restaurants including the likes of Pho Hanoi and Cafe Mama Pho, which are popular with Deptford locals. Many of these restaurants are family-run businesses offering South London visitors authentic Vietnamese dishes passed down through generations. While other areas in London such as Shoreditch’s Kingsland Road also offer these ‘Vietnamese Miles’, Deptford’s offering is certainly less mainstream so well-worth a visit.