Posts Tagged ‘Lesnes Abbey’

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The Lesnes Mulberry tree is believed to be descended from a tree planted at Lesnes in the early 17th century by James I who was trying to establish a British silk industry. Unfortunately, the project failed because the trees sold to the King were Black Mulberry and silkworms feed on White Mulberry.

Whether this was a genuine mistake or whether the King was scammed, we will never know

Lesnes Abbey

Posted: April 30, 2018 in History, London, Medieval History, UK
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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.

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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.

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A beautiful day to be out and about. I travelled a few miles to Lesnes Abbey in south-east London to attend a field studies council teaching day on the identification of Spiders. Now, as regular readers know I do recording for Butterflies, Dragonflies and Bumblebees on my local patch but I have to confess that I know next to nothing about spiders. Unlike the others, they don’t tend to make themselves obvious, quite the opposite in effect so I thought this course, part of the FSC’s Biolinks project was an excellent opportunity to at least start to remedy that.

The morning was taken up by an introductory talk on common spiders and how to recognise them. Species-level identification can be very difficult in the field so it is often about just identifying the family they come from – in some case there are only one species in a family which helps. In the afternoon we spent the time in and around Lesnes Abbey. We started with a wall in the ruins and soon had examples of 5 or 6 species to look at – who would have guessed that so much lived in an old wall. The highlight was a large but very agile example of the Lace web Spiders (Amaurobius ferox) along with a Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus)and the more common lace web spider (Amaurobious similis).

Amaurobious Ferrox

Zebra Spider (left) and House Spider spp (right)

Next, we examined a bush and found another group of species. My favourite was the Cucumber Spider (Araniella cucurbitinia).

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Cucumber Spider. Photo by Mary Shattock (https://www.flickr.com/photos/maryshattock/)

Our final stop was some grassland where we found some Large Jawed Spider (Pachygnatha spp) along with Wolf Spider. My favorite here was the Cricket-bat Spider (Mangora acalphya).

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Cricket Bat Spider. Photo by Christophe Quintan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/34878947@N04/)

This was a very worthwhile and productive day. Thanks to Lawrence and Keiron who led it. I would encourage anyone who wants to improve their invertebrate identification to check out the Biolinks page at http://www.field-studies-council.org/individuals-and-families/fsc-biolinks-courses.aspx

Spider spp seen

Buzzing Spider (Anyphaena accentuata); Crab Spider spp; Running Crab spider spp; Cucumber Spider (Araniella curcurbitinia); Nursery Web Spider spp; Lace web Spider ( Amaurobius similis and Amaurobius Ferrox); Zebra Spider ( Salticus scenicus); Money Spider spp; House Spider spp; Wolf Spider spp; Large Jawed Spider spp; Cricket-bat Spider (Mangora acalphya).

Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)