22 June, 2008

Lesnes Abbey, Blackheath and Greenwich in the sunshine

A visit to Plumstead and Abbey wood, to see Lesnes Abbey (now how is that pronounced?). I've never been to Lesnes Abbey before, although I've been to the old suburb Abbey Wood which is named after it. I walked on a sunny Sunday down to Deptford, calling in at the Parish Church of St Paul, which is well worth a visit if you can ever get in, and catching a bus to Plumstead. I then walked to the Abbey via the Green Chain walk which passed through several commons and up Bostall hill. My streetmap of London seemed to consider that the public lavatory and parks depot were actually abbey remains. This rather confused me. However the door of the gents was stainless steel with six or seven bolts and a high security lock. That's a bit of overkill to protect a few toilets. I got a bit lost hereabouts and walked off in the wrong direction past Goldie Leigh a former(?) hospital, now a childrens home(?). I retraced my steps and crossed the road near the Greenwich and Bexley Cottage Hospice. The land for the hospice was part of the Co-operative Woods and was the site of the Co-operative Education Centre, Shornells, which had burnt down and was surplus to requirements. I think that the co-op caravan and camping site was also sold but not to the Hospice. Inside the hospice is the plaque from Shornells.

I continued on the Green chain, assisted by a person I met who told me how to find the Abbey. In fact, he took me almost to the door. The Abbey was perhaps founded as a pennance for involvement in the murder of Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Cannterbury. It's job was to drain the marshes and maintain the river wall, and these tasks meant that the abbey never attracted great wealth or large numbers of inmates. In fact when Cardinal Wolsely closed it it had fewer than seven. The remails were uncovered in the late 19th century after the Abbot's lodging that had been in use as a farmhouse was demolished. There has been a lot of repair work to the remains of the walls and the church is still quite impressive as marked out on the grass of the park. The tower blocks of Thamesmead Town provide an interesting backdrop to these ancient remains.

After lunch in Woolwich I went on to Blackheath, and visited All Saints Church, a model village church on the heath that just looks so right it has got to be contrived. And so it is. The church was celebrating its 150th anniversary with a flower festival (rather uninspired I thought) but the rood screen in memory of the fallen of the first world war was beautiful to behold. Blackheath is full of trendy boutiques and restaurants which I didn't visit but I did have a look round the far reaches of Greenwich Park.
The fine Ranger's house (pictred) houses a collection of artefacts but I didn't go in and Queen Caroline's bath (also pictured) is the last remnant of Montacute House and was previously covered with paving stones.

I ended the day in a pub in Greenwich with a philosopher a photographer and a teacher in cheery fellowship and conversation that lasted for four hours!

A very balanced day followed by a bath but less luxurious than Queen Caroline's!

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08 June, 2008

Brandy Nan

No photography allowed in St Paul's Cathedral so you can't see the mosaic of Christ Pantocrator, but here is Queen 'Brandy' Nan. Queen Victoria was inconvenienced bt Queen Anne's Statue when she visited and those responsible asked her if she wanted it moved. The Queen replied that she would hate it if one of her statues was moved, so the statue stayed where it was.

Queen Anne was fond of a drop and died without issue, so ending the Stuart dynasty. The Stuarts were bad kings though so nobody was too upset except the annonymous author of the following lines:

Brandy Nan, Brandy Nan,
You left us in the lurch,
Your face towards the ale house
your back to the church.