Lesnes Abbey: working with diverse communities
As part of their National Lottery Heritage Fund programme focused on Lesnes Abbey and the wider park, Bexley Council has launched a number of activities to engage communities in their area, providing introductions to the park and its wider offer. Working with Essex Cultural Diversity Project this involved a staged approach to engaging local residents, with a strong focus on diverse communities. Lesnes Abbey is keen to provide an important resource for many local communities who are currently not visiting or using the available spaces.
As part of the project, Bexley Council organised a range of Open House events, such as a Community Family Day, Volunteer Taster Day, Walks and Talk, advised by Essex Cultural Diversity Project and shaped by the community.
ECDP also delivered a Global Village event in the September 2021 at Lesnes Abbey, on the green area adjacent to the Lodge and café. Global Village is a diverse-focused arts and cultural programme developed by Essex Cultural Diversity Project over the last few years, focusing on fun and participatory activities that take place in large public spaces and festivals. This provides opportunities not only for audiences and participants to experience diverse-focused arts and cultural activities and performances, but also provides an important platform for emerging diverse arts and cultural organisations.
About Lesnes Abbey
Lesnes Abbey is in Bexlyheath and consists of the ruins of an historic Abbey building first founded in 1178 by Richard de Luci who was Chief Justicar of England. The Monastery was suppressed as part of the wider programme of ‘dissolution’ of monasteries and priories under Henry VIII, and much of the building was pulled down and used as materials for other buildings. The area around the Abbey now consists of a public park and woodland, surrounded by residential developments and roads. The remains of the Abbey are a scheduled Ancient Monument, and the woodland is a local nature reserve. There is very limited vehicular access to the park, no public parking and the undulating nature of the terrain means cycling is an unattractive proposition for visitors. There are a few pedestrian access points, but the park is not as well frequented by local populations as it could be. The park is walking distance from Abbey Wood station meaning the area is potentially easily accessible to many different communities across the Greenwich and Bexley Boroughs as well as into north Kent.