London Parks & Gardens Trust

Docks and Ducks

Sayes Court

Sayes Court

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Turn left along Grove Street. After the street bends half-right, Sayes Court Park is on the left.


Near the royal Dockyard, Sayes Court became the home of diarist John Evelyn, who lived here from 1652 to 1694, after which he moved to Surrey, although still owning Sayes Court. In 1698 he let the house for four months to Peter the Great, who came to study shipbuilding in the Royal Naval Dockyard, working as a ship's carpenter. He created havoc, reputedly having wheelbarrow races in the gardens with Edmund Halley, Royal Astronomer. In November 1703 Evelyn's diary noted that the ‘house, trees, garden etc. at Sayes Court suffer'd very much’ in bad storms. Sayes Court house was demolished in 1729 and a workhouse was built on the site. Its historical associations are recalled in street names such as Evelyn Street, Czar Street and Sayes Court Street. In 1878 part of the former grounds became a small recreation ground; now reduced in size by 20th-century development on the east side.