Lesnes Abbey

Lesnes Abbey

Even though I have walked in south east London a lot I am always still rather surprised at the about of open space and woodlands there are. It makes me feel good. I recently set off from Oxleas Meadows following the Green Chain route to Lesnes Abbey. The signage is good and easy to follow. However, the access through Woodlands Farm is now locked and you need to follow the diversion signs. This will take you to East Wickham Open space. The signage in the Bexley parts of this walk is not as clear as they could be. I find the information boards at East Wickham confusing mainly because they don’t have the “you are here” arrow.
The route takes you close to Plumstead Cemetery and I took the opportunity to look around. This cemetery was built because the churchyard of the Woolwich Parish Church of St Mary Magdelen became full. The Victorian fashion for the gothic is reflected in the headstones and statues. Military links to Woolwich are evident and there are two recipients of the Victoria Cross buried here. Alfred Smith VC (1861-1932) who was just 24 when he was awarded the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry. His medal is on display at the Royal Artillery Museum – Firepower. Thomas Flawn (1857-1925) was 21 when he was awarded the VC.

Dying oak in Bostall Woods

Dying oak in Boxall Woods

The route then takes you through Bostall Woods. Many of the oak trees were planted by the navy. The oak would have been used in the nearby Royal Dockyards at Woolwich and Deptford. Now, many of the oaks are dead many still standing but some fallen. The area has become overgrown in parts by holly.

Lesnes Abbey

Lesnes Abbey

My final destination was Lesnes Abbey which overlooks the river at Thamesmead. The monks were the first to reclaim this marsh land and the abbey dates back to 1178. It was one of the first monasteries to close 1524. Henry Vlll ordered all monasteries to be dissolved and sold their land and buildings to his wealthy supporters. Lesnes Abbey was pulled down and was quarried for its stone and building materials.

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