A View of the Parish
Your Online Parish Clerk for Plumstead is:
He can be reached via email at:
dellcrom "at" aol . com
(Replace "at" with the @ symbol and remove any extraneous spaces.)
Plumstead is, ecclesiastically, in the diocese of London, in the archdeaconry of Middlesex, in the deanery of Greenwich. The church is named for St. Nicholas with registers commencing 1654.
Plumstead [modernly pronounced "Plumpstead"] is a suburban town, a parish, and a sub-district, in Lewisham district, Kent. The town is suburban to Woolwich on the east; stands on the North Kent railway, near the river Thames, 10 miles east-by-south of St. Paul's, London; was once a market town; and has a station with telephgraph on the railway, a post office in Sussex Place under London SE, and receiving post offices in Agnes Place and Burrage Town. The Sussex Place post office incorporates a savings bank and money order office.
The parish comprises 3,718 acres of land, and 344 of water. Real property in 1860, £47,403. Population in 1851, 8,373; in 1861, 24,502. Houses, 3,195. The increase of population arose chiefly from contiguity to Woolwich, and from large extension there of government employment.
The manor was given, in 960, by King Edgar, to Canterbury abbey; went, for a time, to Earl Godwin's son Tostan, and to Bishop Odo; passed, in the time of Henry VIII, to the Boughtons; and was given, in 1736, to Queen's College, Oxford. Lesnes or Lessness abbey estate, with interesting ruins 1-1/2 miles east of the parish church, belongs to Christ's hospital, London. Burrage Town estate, forming the west section of the parish, belongs to the Pattison family. Genteel residences and elegant villas are very numerous. A committee was formed in August 1866 to test the right over Plumstead common. The south portions of the parish are hilly, and have good views; but the north portions are chiefly marsh. Shooter's Hill is in the same range as Plumstead common. About 2,000 acres of the Plumstead and Erith marshes were inundated in the time of Henry VIII, and were not recovered till the time of James I. Powder magazines are on the Plumstead marshes; brickfields, tile kilns, sand pits and chalk pits, are near Plumstead common; market gardening is carried on; and sugar moulds are made.
The living is a vicarage, united with Arsenal chapel, in the diocese of London. Value, £873 with a habitable glebe house. Patron, the Rev. J. A. McAllister. The perpetual curacy of St. Nicholas is a separate benefice, of the value of £300, in the patronage of the Vicar.
St. James' chapel, on the Burrage Town estate, forms another charge, and is in the patronage of Mr. Pattison. St. Margaret's church, on Plumstead common, is a recent and handsome edifice. St. Nicholas' church is an old building, and has been much improved. St. James'chapel is neat and modern.
There are also neat and commodious dissenting chapels, national schools, and charities of £106.
The sub-district, includes also Charlton-next-Woolwich parish, and comprises 5,057 acres. Population in 1861, 32,974. Houses, 4,312.1
1John Marius Wilson, comp. The Imperial Gazatteer of England and Wales. (London, England: A. Fullerton & Co., 1870).
For further history of Plumstead and district see http://www.nwkfhs.org.uk/plum_plc.htm and Ideal Homes, Suburbia in Focus, Plumstead.
Today, very few people that live in Plumstead today can claim to have any historical roots to this parish when it was part of Kent. Or why should they, since the Crimean war the main reason for Plumstead, was as homes for the Royal Arsenal (again, locally pronounced without the "n") workers. It was not until I started looking into my own family history that, to my surprise, my Devon grandfather's family had been knocking around this area for well over a century and a half. Also, by his marriage and by a strange trick of fate - WW1, her mother's family had came from North West Kent area. So, my ancestry can go back yet another hundred or so years but I am still working on this. So, although like most of the people here, I have no claim to be a true Man of Kent - that is, one born this side of the River Medway.
Today, Plumstead is hard to find let alone to define - just another part of another urban borough in the M25 zone. Plumstead bus Garage, operated by the red buses of Stagecoach on what is still called the Plumstead Road (A206), before it changes into Plumstead High Street, known as Plumstead Bridge, where, if you look really hard, you still can find the original bridge. Plumstead Railway Station (see photograph at link, above), unlike other suburban stations on the North West Kent Line, had very little impact in the development of the area. Not so for other forms of transport: The tram and, later, the trolleybus and motor bus routes were the main form of public transport. But, of course, the car has brought the major change to the area. The widening of roads and car parks has meant a lot of old Plumstead is simply no longer there. Click on the following links for further information concerning the Plumstead railway station and transportation history.
Plumstead as a village started at the other end of the High Street, from the railway station at the junction of Wickham Lane, known as the Corner. This is where you'll still find the parish church of St Nicholas (see photograph at link, above). More importantly, you'll also find the "Plum de feathers" across the road from St. Nicholas Church (see photograph at link, above).
The shopping area is on the junction of Lakedale Road, and Plumstead High Street. With its Fire Station on the corner, little has changed, apart from the Co-op and Beasley Brewery, since the horse trams trundled into the Tram Yard, behind the shops. What is new transpires as the result of WW2, then, any planers' plan. Unlike the faceless shops of Abbey Wood and Thamesmead.
I suppose I must mention Thamesmead, built on the Plumstead Marshes that had been occupied by the Royal Arsenal until the end of the 20th-century. The only thing now there is Bellmarsh, Her Majesty's Prison, and a housing estate. Don't ask me which one's which.
I suppose I must also mention Abbey Wood. So, I have. Started by the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society, the fingers of which stretched out throughout Kent life.
So this is Plumstead, from Eltham (Greenwich) Shooters Hill (the old A2 Roman Road) with its water tower, Plum Lane, down the slopes to Shrewsbury Park, upper Plumstead, onto Plumstead and Winns Common. Down the slopes again of Middle Plumstead. No sign now of the Work House. Then onto lower Plumstead. Neatly ends with the Southern Outfull pipe embankment to Crossness.
The parish of Plumstead is bounded by East Wickham (Welling) and Belvedere (Erith) to the east; Woolwich (Greenwich), to the west; and, the River Thames to the north. . It should be noted that, before the formation of the Greater London Council, the former London County Council borough of Woolwich consisted of lands on the opposite bank called North Woolwich and were considered to be part of the county of Kent and not of Essex.
Plumstead does not have its own postal area (zip code). It is shared with Woolwich in the SE18 area, Thamesmead in the SE28 area and in the DA28 area. Abbey Wood is SE2. The DA prefix in DA28 represents Dartford, Kent. The SE prefix in SE18, SE28 and SE2 represents the South East of London.
Records for Plumstead are kept at:
Greenwich Heritage Centre
Medway Council Archives
London Metropolitan Archives.
If anyone has Plumstead pictures, post cards or local family web site links that they would like to add to these pages, please contact me, at the email address above. You might also like to read more about Plumstead at Plumstead Stories.