Why go there?
It’s always being hyped or scorned: find out what all the hoo-hah is about.
What’s that smell?
That, my dear sir, is the salt tang of history, which ever blows down the maritime precincts of SE8. With an added waft from the High Street’s many fish shops.
What’s the vibe?
It’s got a bit of everything: a bustling street market and genuinely ‘no-antiques’ flea market stretching up the High Street (Wed, Fri, Sat). There’s a thriving art scene and lots of curious characters. The skull and crossbones carvings on the gateposts of St Nicholas’ Church (right) inspired the original pirate flag.
Any celebs around?
Not recently. Legend has it that Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe was murdered in a tavern here after quibbling about the bill (he refused to split it because he didn’t have a starter). In 1698 Russia’s Peter the Great borrowed writer John Evelyn’s Deptford house while over on a gap year to study shipbuilding. Like all students, Pete and his stupid mates trashed it.
Viet Rest is the best of the High Street’s several Vietnamese joints. Eat a pizza on public transport shame-free at the Big Red double-decker bus on Deptford Church Street. For a bit of spit-and-sawdust authenticity, you can’t beat pie and mash at Manze’s (High Street).
Where can I wet my whistle?
Sophisticates should locate the damp concrete tunnel on Deptford Broadway that leads to Little Nan’s cocktail bar. The drinks are ace and amazing value. Sip a Paddy Ashdown with notes of midori melon liqueur, or a mezcal and tequila-fired Zara Philips. True aficionados ask for the Lord DCI Burnside. If you’re more of a salty seadog, head to the Dog & Bell (Prince St). It regularly appears in beer-lovers’ guides, and has an annual pickling competition (literal pickling, not getting pissed).
Where’s the party at?
The Bunker Club on Deptford Broadway has a studentfacing vibe (Goldsmiths College is just up the road) and hoovers up the gang from Little Nan’s. Or get with the arty crowd at the South London Art Map’s sociable Friday lates around the area’s galleries and studios.
If I only do one thing?
Go for a low-tide walk in muddy Deptford Creek. You won’t believe what some people throw away.
Find more new areas to explore in London.