A ROYAL Tudor stone marking Henry VIII’s founding of Deptford Dockyard 500 years ago has been rediscovered behind a false wall.
The 2.5-metre-high foundation stone, bearing the initials of Henry VIII and his first queen Katherine of Aragon, was found at University College London (UCL) which has pledged to return it to the historic Deptford site.
It comes as The Mayor of London is expected to make a decision next month on controversial plans to build 3,500 homes, retail outlets and a hotel at Deptford’s Convoys Wharf.
The site was put on to the World Monuments Watch last year for threatened heritage spaces and has high-profile supporters including MP for Lewisham and Deptford Dame Joan Ruddock and TV historian Dan Snow.
Chief Executive of World Monuments Fund Britain Dr Jonathan Foyle said: “The rediscovery of the foundation stone reminds us that this site was the foremost royal dockyard of the Tudor period, and a historic site of national importance at this critical moment when its future is to be decided by the Mayor of London.
“We hope that UCL’s pledge will help to inform the Mayor’s decision on the scheme so that the cultural heritage is fully recognised and expressed in any future redevelopment.”
The stone was rediscovered by a member of community group Deptford Is, Chris Mazeika, who spotted it on a chance visit to the university where it had lain forgotten for more than 50 years after being salvaged from the bomb-damaged dockyard.
It was formally unveiled on February 13 at the university where the structure had been hidden behind a panel.
Director of Museums and Public Engagement at UCL Sally MacDonald said: “We were amazed to find this remarkable piece of brickwork hidden behind a panel at UCL, and fascinated to rediscover its history and provenance.
“It would be very exciting to see it returned to its original location in Deptford, where it can open up new potential for research and engagement with London’s history.”