Lesnes Abbey - History and Facts | History Hit

Lesnes Abbey

London, England, United Kingdom

Lesnes Abbey is a ruined 12th century abbey located in South East London that now forms part of a scenic park and nature reserve.

Lily Johnson

07 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Lesnes Abbey

Lesnes Abbey is a ruined medieval abbey located in east London which now forms part of a scenic park and nature reserve.

Lesnes Abbey history

Lesnes Abbey was founded in 1178 by Richard de Luci, a strong ally of Henry II and Chief Justiciar of England – its founding may have even been in penance for the murder of Thomas Becket, in which de Luci played a part.

Though one of the smaller of England’s medieval abbeys, Lesnes nevertheless survived through the early middle ages despite the often turbulent history taking place around it. For example, in 1381 during the Peasants’ Revolt a local uprising burst into the abbey and forced the abbot to swear allegiance to them, before marching to join Wat Tyler and the main body of the rebellion in Maidstone.

In 1524 however – during Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries – Lesnes Abbey was forced to close, becoming one of the first victims of the purge against such institutions. Its land passed to the King and was later sold to the monarch’s supporters, with most of the monastic buildings pulled down soon after the dissolution.

Lesnes Abbey today

Today, the abbey lies in ruins with some additional areas restored to highlight the outline of the structure. The ruins include that of the church, cloisters, and the nave, and though few remain they give an indication of the scale of the site.

The site also remains a pretty, idyllic scene located in a modern nature reserve and alongside Lesnes Abbey Woods, and is therefore certainly worth visiting not only for the ruins themselves but for the overall vista on show.

Getting to Lesnes Abbey

Lesnes Abbey is located in east London near Woolwich, and can be accessed via the A206 and A2041. Abbey Wood train station is a 10-minute walk away, while a number of bus services stop on Florence Road, a 5-minute walk away.

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