|Abbey Wood Open Space||Havering|
Abbey Wood Open Space is an area of grassland and woods, so called for being in the ownership of Barking Abbey in medieval times. There was once a path from the Parsonage continuing by the Ingrebourne River to Abbey Wood, across Berwick Ponds, ending at Abbey Cottages. Reputedly in one of the plague years bodies were brought upriver by barge from Barking Abbey along the Thames to the Abbey lands and dumped in the marshes.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2007
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Abbey Wood Open Space is an area of grassland and woods within the Ingrebourne Valley that marks the course of the Ingrebourne River through Havering. The wood is so called for being in the former ownership of Barking Abbey (q.v.) in medieval times. The site abuts Berwick Ponds to the east, which were part of the once extensive estate of Berwick Manor dating back to the Domesday Book of 1086. The current C17th manor house in Berwick Pond Road is likely to have been a lodge to an older manor house, which may have stood on a different site. The position of the manor houses on the estate appear to have changed over the years. From the C13th or earlier the manor was owned by the Knights Templar until the order was suppressed in 1308, then transferred to the Knights Hospitallers until 1540, following which the estate reverted to the monarchy on the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. Master of the Rolls Sir Robert Southwell then held the manor, already owning other estates in the area. By the early C18th the Berwick estate extended from Hacton Lane in the north to Rainham village in the south, and Moor Hall Farm in the east to the open land of the Ingrebourne Valley in the west. The land was eventually broken up and sold in lots as the area developed.
The original estate had two lodges, North Lodge, which became known as Rainham Lodge and was demolished in 1960, and South Lodge or Berwick House, which became known as Berwick Manor, later becoming a country club. Berwick Ponds are particularly important for nature conservation, with part of the site designated SSSI and part declared as a Local Nature Reserve in 2006. There was once a footpath from the Parsonage (at Upminster?) continuing alongside the Ingrebourne River to Abbey Wood, across Berwick Ponds, and ending at Abbey Cottages. In one of the plague years bodies were reputedly brought upriver by barge from Barking Abbey along the Thames to the Abbey lands and dumped in the marshes.
The site is known for adders today. It is wooded at the western end with access along one side of Berwick Ponds and in the eastern end there are mature thorn bushes. Part of the ground has been levelled and seeded as a football pitch, used by Rainham Oriel Football Club.
LB Havering Recreation and Amenities Brochure, 1970; John Drury, 'Treasures of Havering', Ian Henry Publications, 1998