Deptford Park and Folkestone Gardens have a strong connection with John Evelyn and so it seemed sensible to visit Sayes Court Park in Deptford next. This was the site and name of his home and garden (perhaps ‘estate’ would be a better word) in Deptford, which is part of Lewisham district.
I have often driven past Folkestone Gardens in the car, or whizzed by in the train, but I have not walked there until now. London Gardens Online tells me that ‘…Folkestone Gardens were created in the 1970s on the site of war-damaged housing, and is overlooked and completely surrounded by railway lines. The Grand Surrey Canal used to run past the northern end of the park from Camberwell to the Surrey Docks; it was filled in in 1972, having closed the previous year. On undulating ground, the park has grass, woodland areas, a belt of Lombardy poplars along the edge, and a group of sycamores in the centre. In the north-west is a large pond with an island with weeping willow. When it was restored in 1994, some of the pond-side plants were taken from the surplus at Hare and Billet Pond on Blackheath. The park supports a surprising diversity of plants and animals considering its size and location…’.
London Gardens Online describes this park as follows: ‘…Located near the river, the site was once market gardens on the estate owned by the Evelyn family, and was particularly famous for its onions, celery and asparagus. In 1884 the land was purchased for a public park by the LCC, who paid two-thirds of the purchase cost. Deptford Park was opened on 7 June 1897 by the LCC Chairman, Dr W J Collins. The layout was by Lt Col J J Sexby, Chief Officer of the Parks Department, and included several built features that no longer survive. The entrance on Evelyn Street has iron gates and railings and a short avenue of London plane trees, and the structural planting and design is largely intact with a perimeter walk, and perimeter planting of mature London planes…’.