The stone marking Henry VIII's foundation of the Royal Naval Dockyard at Deptford 500 years ago has been rediscovered behind a false wall at University College London.
Bearing the initials of Henry VIII and his first queen Katherine of Aragon [H K] with a marriage knot, the stone belongs to the original naval storehouse built by the King in 1513, the remains of which are now a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It marks the official royal foundation of the dockyard to the service of Henry VIII, when the navy became established - a story of ships built to sail the world, defend Britain and discover new lands, commanded by famous names such as Sir Francis Drake (c.1540-1596), Sir Walter Raleigh (c.1554-1618) and James Cook (1728-1779).
The stone was rediscovered by Chris Mazeika of local community group Deptford Is, whose research on the Tudor dockyard led him to 1950's drawings of the artefact. It was only on a chance visit to UCL that Chris glimpsed the stone in the Geography Department, where it had lain forgotten for over 50 years since it was salvaged from the bomb-damaged dockyard after World War II, and Chris immediately identified its significance.
UCL has pledged to return this historically significant find to Deptford Dockyard which comes at a crucial time as the Mayor of London is expected to make a decision on current redevelopment proposals for the site in March 2014.