History of the Abbey

Investigate our rich history through the ages.

3D impression of how the abbey may have looked

Lesnes Abbey was founded by Richard de Luci, Chief Justiciar of England in 1178 as penance for his role in the murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. The Abbey owned a large estate including the extensive marshland where the ‘new town’ of Thamesmead now stands. However, the cost of draining the marsh and maintaining river embankments meant the Abbey was never a large or wealthy community.

Its closure by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525 was one of the earliest, predating the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. The Abbey, now in ruins, has been classified as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is Grade II listed. The site is now managed and maintained by Bexley Council.

Situated in woods nears the Monks Garden is The Conduit Pond, an ancient source of fresh water that is spring-filled. It’s believed that this was the source of drinking water for the monks of Lesnes Abbey as the Thames river water would have been too brackish and salty to drink. There is a gully that drops steeply down the hillside and this was likely to have been the watercourse that carried the water down to the Abbey.


Cutaway image to show impression of interior
Abbey ruins in 1978
Page from missal
Old black and white photo of man walking dog, with industry and high-rise flats in the background
Page from missal

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