Welcome to Abbey Gardens, a community garden in West Ham
surrounding part of the ruins of a
12th century abbey.

There are free garden club sessions and new gardeners are always welcome. The garden is open to visitors from dawn till dusk.


In the garden:

  • No upcoming events
AEC v1.0.4 Click here to see full calendar


Search our site:

Gardening sessions take place on
Tuesdays 1pm-3pm
Thursdays 4pm-7pm
Saturdays 10am-4pm

Archive for June 2007

artistic licence – the Gate house in the 21st centruy


“I used a (very!) large amount of artistic licence, but the drawing part is based on the one on your site which crops up regally on other sites.

The positioning of the gate is as near as I can get it to the position of the old stones which were exposed when they did the test a couple of weeks ago to see what was there, it seems to line up with the boundary of the depot.

If you go on to this site http://www.newham.com/ and search History there is amongst the items, a photo of the Houses on the site.
It would have been taken in the late 60`s as the tower blocks are in the background, and when we were transferred from Arragon Road to Bridge Road in 1974, the houses were gone, except of a couple right by the old depot entrance which were used as Offices for the old transport firm.”

from Robert Rogers

Drop in Consultation event – flyer


Download a pdf version of the flyer here -> flyer-to-residents.pdf

Revised landscape design by Sharon Swift


The revised design for the site by Sharon Swift from Newham. Click here to download the A4 drawing and questionaire by Newham Council for your comments on the design.

The site as seen from the depot


“Hope the photo taken from the back of the depot is of some help. – Robert Rogers”

Abbey Road, Probably the most Historic Road in Newham?


No one knows when the first man or woman walked down the route that runs from the high ground that we now know as West Ham Lane to the marshlands at Stratford.

This pathway, which we now call Abbey Road, may have existed before the Abbey at Stratford was built.

The Abbey of St Mary at Stratford Langthorne was built in the 12th Century, and was a `Daughter House` of the Cistercian Monastery of Savigney in France..

The Pathway soon became a route from West Ham Church to the Abbey.
The Cistercian Monks would walk through the pastures of the farmlands to and from these churches.

The path used to go through the Great gate of the Abbey, close to what is today’s Abbey Road, Newham Homes Depot.

The Langthorn was an ingredient of the bread baked by the Bakers at the Abbey, close to what is now Bakers Row.

The Marshlands in the area around the Abbey were in need of constant draining, which a duty was carried out by the monks.

When in the 16th century the monastery was closed down (dissolution) by Henry VIII, the duty to drain the marsh was passed to the owners of the lands that once belonged to the church.

This was almost impossible to control, and the responsibility was passed to West Ham, who had been taken to the Kings `Sewage Court` to force them to take action.

The marshes were split into seven separate marshes, and the nearest to the site of the present Bakers Row was called Blackwall Marsh

This part of the route became known as the path to Blackwall (not to be confused with the Blackwall Docks in Poplar).

This path was finally cut in half in the 19th century when the Eastern Counties and Thames Junction railway was built.

By this time it had become a formal road, which runs from what was now West Ham Lane to the new railway, and was called Abbey Lane.

The junction at West Ham Lane was a three-way triangle of Abbey Road, West Ham Lane and Church Street. This junction can still be seen as the Island, in front of the shops by West Ham Church.

There does seem to a bit of confusion over the name, some maps call it Abbey Road, some Abbey Lane, and what we now know as Abbey Lane was called Abbey Mills Lane, because of the old windmills which stood in the area.

The arrival of the railway caused a major change in the area.

Houses were built and a new road called Abbey Lane, which was carried over the Railway line by a bridge that had been built.

The houses standing next to this were called Abbey Lane Bridge Railway Cottages, and are still standing.

Factories, plus the Adam and Eve Public House, were built on the site of the old Abbey.

At the rear end of the present Bridge Road Depot there is an area, which is an Ancient Monument Site.

It was the formal Garden belonging to the Abbey, and the Dockland Light Railway Olympics Extension to Stratford will swallow up a part of it.

It is hoped that as a part of the new DLR (Abbey Road) station being built there, will be a small monument to this AMS.

Before we leave this end of Abbey Road we must mention Bridge Road Depot. This was the first ever West Ham Corporation Depot which used to included stables, which first opened in 1896.

In the 1958 West Ham Corporation Handbook it was listed as two separate depots, the Work Department at Bridge Road and the Transport Depot at Abbey road.

Over 100 years since it opened, although combined and greatly changed, it is still a depot, which currently belongs to Newham Homes, as well as being the home for Newco and Newham’s IT department, Carboodle.

Again in the 1980`s, major changes took place with the building of the Jubilee Underground Railway and Depot.
Archaeologist took an advantage of the major work to examine the old grounds of the Abbey, and remains of the monks, which had been buried there, were discovered.

On what is the Stratford side of Abbey Road was land belonging to a Market Garden and this was slowly built on as the need for housing in the area grew.

On the Plaistow side there is a far more interesting story.

In 1725, a Parish Workhouse was built on land given by Sir Gregory Page-Turner Bt.

Next to it was land given by the Bettons Trust, which was set up in the memory of Sir Thomas Betton, and for many years this was owned by the Ironmongers Guild in the City of London.
There is still a memorial to this on the green at Leather Gardens.
This area was know as Barrowfields

When the old Workhouse closed it was converted in 1850 to a Gutta Percha (Rubber) Works owned by the Handcock brothers.

This in turn was taken over by the Crocketts Leather Cloth Factory.
With the developed of this factory and new housing, what was left of the fields soon disappeared.

The Leather cloth factory finally closed in the early 1960`s

The old factory and houses were demolished and a New Council (Leather Gardens) Estate was built for West Ham Corporation. Included on this estate are David Lee and Brassett Points, Old Barrowfield and Bettons Park Road.

The War Memorial to the workforce from both the Great War and the Second World War, standing close to the Junction of Abbey road and Abbey Lane is the only remains of the factory.

Before we finally reach West Ham Lane, there is another story.

In the 19th century a School was built at the top of Abbey Road which was called Abbey Road School.

The school was used up to the start of WWII.

After the children were evacuated, the school was converted for use for the West Ham Fire Brigade.

The school received a direct hit from an Enemy bomb towards the end of the war and was badly damaged.
It was never reopened as a School once the War was over.

The School was demolished and Homes was put in its place.
These houses and flats are called Turley Close.

A Marker Stone is the only remains of the School Site.

Turley Close is named Wally Turley. Turly was a sub officer in the West Ham Fire Brigade, who was killed along with his Crew and members of the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) on the 7th September 1940 at Bridge Road Depot, when it was hit by one of the first bombs of the London Blitz.

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, unveiled a memorial to these men in September 2005, which is on the front gate at Bridge Road.

Finally a piece of Sporting History, after World War Two, on many of the bomb damaged areas in London, the sport of Cycle Speedway begun, and Abbey Road played its part.
As the damage was cleared, the Debris was used as Race tracks.
In Sandal Street, a few moments walk from Abbey Road, the Portway Penguins Cycle Speedway team had their track.

They were amongst the founders of the East London League, and in 1953 they won the London Coronation Cup.

Well, that is the end of Abbey Road, a lot of History from Churches to Railways via Charity, Workhouse, Homes, Farms, Factories, Windmills, Fireman, Ironmongers, Warfare, Schools, Speedway, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the local Council, must make this the most historic Road in Newham.

But finally, we may even have a Ghost!

Recently on Newham Councils History Board there was an item from a lady who can remember as a child being told a story of a `ghostly white Monk` who would suddenly disappear in to what used to be a tunnel in the area.

Well like all really good ghosts stories, this on does have a few facts in its favour!

There are lots of rumours of tunnels in Newham, and if all were true the borough by now would have sunk into them, but there was moats in and around the area of the Abbey, and if you cover a moat, what do you get, a tunnel!

The Cistercian Monks in the Abbey were known as the `White` monks because of their white habits.

© R.J.Rogers.

The History Detectives and the Mystery Marker Stone

How many tenants of the Leather Gardens Estate in Abbey Road, London, E.15, have walked past an old lump of stone, standing on the communal green, and not noticed it? (See photo at end of item).

If they had, they may have noticed some writing and a crest on it.

I did, and have carried out (with a lot of help from a lot of people) research on it, which has brought one or two twist and turns that would do any good Detective Mystery proud!

The first and most expected answer was it was something to do with the old Leather Cloth factory, Crockets, which stood on site.

Thanks to Richard Durack at Newham Archives and Local Studies Library at Stratford for his help on this.
He found a copy of the map of the area just after the factory was built, this theory was soon dispelled, as the stone looked to be much older than the building date, and seem to have no connection.

The next family who it could have connected with was the De Montifitchet Family.
They were Lords of the Manor.
In this case the stone was not old enough to have marked off their lands, plus their estate was much larger than just this area, plus the family crest on the stone was unlike any of the variants of the De Montifitchet Family crest.

I needed a midway point in history between these, and this seemed to be the Stratford Workhouse.

In 1725, a Parish Workhouse was built on land given by Sir Gregory Page-Turner Bt.

His family `seat` was at Blackheath in Kent.

A part of the land where the workhouse stood was a garden area.
This was later to turn out more important than I realised.

Another name to come up was Sir John Henry Pelly Bt, who is remembered in the naming of Pelly Road, E.13.
He had helped to establish the Poor Law Union in West Ham in 1836.

Again after research there was no obvious connection between these two Knights of the Realm and the Marker Stone.

A part of the old workhouse became a factory with other buildings being built on the site, which had become the Handcock brothers, Gutta Percha Works, in1850.
This went on to become the Leather cloth factory, which went through various owners before closing in 1961.

Again despite research through both the Internet and the Local Studies Library (Thanks to Jenni Munro-Collins for her help), there was no seeming links between any of this.

Despite asking on both Newham Local History Web site, and the West-East Newham London Yahoo Local Group site, (which I am a member of), there was very little joy, although a name had come up, Sir Peter Meutis (or Mewtas.)

When the Stratford Abbey was dissolved in 1538, he was granted property in the precincts of the old Abbey. He later became the Ambassador to France. Despite this, there still seemed no link to the memorial, and I was no nearer an answer.

The Carpenters name was also mentioned, but again the crest was incorrect, and their lands were more north of the old road through Stratford.

Both the Hills and the Hennikers were also checked out, but again were dead ends.

It was then that Kathy Taylor, (Manager of the North Woolwich Railway Museum), found a missing clue, Thomas Holbrook.
Kathy, as well as giving me support, was also doing research herself on the subject.

Thomas Holbrook had bought up the remaining land to the South and East of the old Stratford Langthorne Abbey, including the old remaining Buildings.

He had the buildings demolished and sold off for other use.

There was a very strong link between him and the stone.

The family crest of the Holbrooks is very much like the one on the stone, plus stone is not parallel with the road, but is facing in a southeast direction.

Another link is the chains, which show on the heraldic crest on the stone.

Chains are rarely seen on crest, so the next piece of research was to contact one of the major web sites on Heraldry.

A photo of the stone was sent to them, but even they were uncertain of the marking on the stone because it is so badly worn, but they did confirm that when chains are used they signify a Gift or Service to the Church.

In 1804, Thomas Holbrook gave the Royal Arms to West Ham Church and other items.

The seemingly final link to Thomas Holbrook is that he died in 1811.
On the stone, there is a very faded date, but the last two numbers seemed to be II, which I had assumed was Roman numerals.

The Holbrook Family Crest is described as a Gules Chevron, with three Gules Cross Botonny, in other words, a red Chevron with three Botonny Crosses.

If Thomas Holbrook was as close to the King as to be allowed to present a Royal crest to the church, I see no reason why he would be allowed to have his own personal alterations to a Heraldic Crest, and this would account for the chains on the Crest.

We therefore felt the most likely reason for this Mystery Marker Stone was in fact, a memorial to Thomas Holbrook.

Neither Kathy or myself felt a 100% happy with the result, it was at this point Kathy called on some devine intervention.
She contacted West Ham Church!

After some research by Staff from the Church, Kathy went off to the Guildhall in the City of London.
From there she was directed to the City of London Livery Company, the Ironmongers Guild, who are known as a part of the Great twelve, the senior companies of the London Guilds.

These Trade Guilds were set up to monitor the quality of the Tradesmen in the City of London, and to this day the City and Guilds Qualifications is still used for this.

The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers are one of the major Livery Companies in the City, and are based at the Ironmongers Hall in the Barbican, for more information see their web site www.ironhall.co.uk/
They originated in the 14th Century.

Amongst the information she got from them was a map of a park/garden in Stratford on land that was called Barrowfield, which was purchased from Sir Gregory Page.
This had been paid for from the will of Thomas Betton, a Merchant Venture and Ironmonger, who died in 1723.
He had bequeathed half the interest of his estate to redeem British slaves in Barbary and Turkey.
The rest was one quarter to charity schools in London and one quarter for the relief of decayed freemen, and it was a part of this that was used for the poor in West Ham.
Some of the poor rather than having to go into the workhouse, were paid to tend this garden instead.

The fund for this garden came from what was known as the Betton Trust, which is still a charitable fund today.

She also got a copy of the Livery Crest of the Company, which is exactly what is the crest on the Stone.

The full Heraldic Arms was received by them in 1455, and is described as being,
Argent on a Chevron Gules between three Gads of Steel Azure three Swivels Or

Now we know that the communal green on the Leather gardens estate is called Barrowfield, and the stone is in memory of Thomas Betton and the Ironmongers Guild.

There are two turnings on the estate, called Old Barrowfield and Bettons Park, the second name would seem to have been used as it was sometimes called `Bettons Park` by some of the people in the area.

So now we know what the old lump of stone really means, a history which goes back seven centuries!

There is a lot more research to be done, and it may change a few `facts`.
One day it may be produced as a booklet for Newham, but for time being, next time somebody tells you that they have no interest in the History of Newham, just tell them what they are missing!

Thanks to all who helped this History Detective.

The Mystery Stone, now a History told.

M&E Inspector
Property & Asset Management Services,
Newham Homes,
Bridge Road Depot.
March 2006.

More images of the first Abbey Gardens event

Images of on site BBQ


Invitation for first event on site


Update from Steven Brindle – Inspector of Ancient Monuments

Dear Ms French,

Thank you for your Email: it is very good see that a Friends group is forming for this site.

I am responsible for English Heritage’s advice relating to Scheduled Monuments in London, and am thus responsible the Bakers’ Row site.

I am in discussions with the borough about the way forward for the site. As you may be aware, the borough recently commissioned two trial trenches on the site to inform the proposed designs. These were carried out by the Museum of London Archaeology Service in consultation with ourselves. They were a great success, and we can now say that:

– The remains of a small mediaeval building, perhaps the gate-keeper’s house, that had been excavated in 1973-4, were indeed found, as were remains of later buildings on the site.
– The mediaeval remains were in good condition, at fairly high level. They seem to be of chalk and ragstone rubble, with a good facing of flint.
– It should in principle be possible to display the mediaeval remains to some degree, as a feature of the new gardens. This would need to be carefully designed, to protect them from weathering and from wear and tear/vandalism (in the light of our experience on other sites).
– There are no archaeological obstacles to the creation of a public garden/open space on the site, which ideally should refer to and, to some extent, display, the history of Stratford Langthorne Abbey.

There will, at some point, have to be a further round of evaluation work, in planning the new gardens. This will have to wait on the felling of self-seeded sycamores directly over the site of the mediaeval building. It also depends on decisions by the borough, so I am not sure when this will happen. When it does, though, I will ask the borough and MoLAS,to make sure that there is an opportunity for local people to see the archaeological work in progress, and that you are consulted about the emerging designs for the space.

Yours sincerely,

Steven Brindle,
Inspector of Ancient Monuments,
London Region.