An affordable dormitory district situated south of Thamesmead, which it prefigured. It is named after the ancient woodlands that surround the remains of Lesnes Abbey, founded in 1178.
The abbey’s site was close to a marsh that was prone to frequent flooding when the Thames overflowed its banks. The
monks had to maintain the river wall to prevent the floods, which allowed the development of a small settlement here. The
hamlet had only a hundred inhabitants when the North Kent Railway arrived and a small station opened in 1850, and its setting
remained rural for the rest of that century. To the south, the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society began building the Bostall
estate from about 1900. Further expansion came with the construction of a tram depot, which was subsequently converted to
a bus garage. In the 1950s land sales by the shrinking Woolwich Arsenal allowed the council to build the Abbey Wood estate
on land west of Harrow Manor Way. For a while the estate was a boom town, with industry and more housing piling in. Local
amenities followed, but only after pressure from community activists. Half the households are now owner-occupied and Abbey
Wood constitutes a useful first step on the ladder for cash-strapped home buyers, especially those with children.