London’s Forgotten Abbey
After our family moved from Greenwich to Abbey Wood, I went exploring the bluebell-filled woods and came across a ruined abbey. I recently went back to find it exactly the same as in my childhood, just as deserted.
Lesnes Abbey was founded by Richard de Luci, Chief Justiciar of England, in 1178 as an act of penance for the murder of Thomas Becket, in which he was involved. In 1179, de Luci resigned his office and retired to the Abbey, where he died and was buried in the chapter house.
The abbey is situated in South East London, in the ancient Abbey Woods named after it, where the land rises above Thamesmead’s marshland. It still had farms nearby until relatively recently. There are only ruined walls now, but you can still clearly see the abbey layout, and the woods behind go for miles.