Lesnes Abbey was founded in 1178 by Richard De Luci, Justicular of England as penance for his part in the murder of Archbishop Thomas Beckett at Canterbury.It is close to the pilgrim way from London to the tomb of Beckett in Canterbury. De Luci, retired to the Abbey and died there.
An artists impression of Lesnes Abbey in 12th-13th century
It experienced a decline in the 14th century and despite a revival in the early 16th century, it was targeted by the government of Henry VIII, who had obtained permission from the pope to close all small monasteries (under 8 residents) in England. Lesnes closed in 1524 and was immediately pulled down. This dissolution of the monasteries was a full 12 years before the start of Henry’s major attack on the monasteries, which ran between 1536 and 1541 during which time he closed all the remaining monastic houses in the country.
The ruins and the surrounding land passed into private ownership until it was purchased by the London County Council in 1930 and opened as a public park. Ownership passed to Bexley Council in 1986.