Old Mulberry Tree
The Old Mulberry Tree is said to have been planted in 1698 by ‘Peter The Great‘, a Russian Tsar who rumoredly came to Britain 300 years ago undercover and worked as a Royal Dockyard worker in Deptford to learn how to build a Navy.
Apparently his disguise wasn’t very good, what with him dressing like a king and having a court dwarf servant.
But he liked to party like a king and whilst living it up in the pubs around Deptford he insisted he was British and a lowly working class dock worker, explaining in a strong Russian accent.
The locals liked him and played along so as not to hurt his feelings, and to keep taking his cash over the pub counter.
This story may have been made up, it was told to me by my friend Jo in the Dog and Bell pub in Deptford, as the story has been passed down throughout the generations. And it makes a great story. A story as old as the Old Mulberry Tree itself – 300 years.
Further fact and fiction mashup can be found by taking a walk while listening to the ‘Evelyn’s Roots Audio Trail’. It starts right here at the Old Mulberry Tree.
The Old Mulberry Tree sits in Sayes Court, a fairly nice, if a little bland park. Which on a nice day is alive with birdsong and not a lot of traffic noise for London.
The park is next to Convoys Wharf, the derelict old Queen’s Dockyard.
UPDATE: April 2020 – The Audio Trail is really fun. Takes about an hour and a half. The best part are the stories from Deptford locals that you listen to while walking between stops. Some of the songs are best fast-forwarded through (and the weird bit where the trees talk.) It gets you to wait in some odd places, like the bottom of the steps before Pepys Park – wait at the top of the steps in the meadow instead, much more interesting.
In spring time the Mulberry tree still buds leaves. Apparently the Mulberries are ready to eat in August/September and give you eternal life. We’ll update again at the end of the summer to confirm if there are berries, and in a few millennia to confirm if they give eternal life.
Update Summer 2023: I spotted that the mulberry tree had mulberries. I thought about eating one and getting eternal life. But then I saw a plaque where it said the tree was sponsored by the Russian embassy. The Russians have a bad reputation of poisoning people recently so thought I’d give it a miss this time. Got the rest of my life to get the eternal life magic spell. But I must remember to do I before I’m old. Would be annoying to forget and die.