Directional, the hill leads up to Borstall Wood. Comes from the Old English word Borg-steall meaning a place of refuge or protection, which perhaps given its position overlooking the low ground of Thamesmead may have been an ancient reference to flooding or, more usually, in relation to cattle. It was first recorded as Borstal in 1254 and Borstalle in 1264 and Burstalle in 1354. The word itself still survives in the Sussex and Kent dialect word borstal which means a winding pathway up a steep slope. Before development of the area George Duckworth, one of Charles Booth’s researchers, in 1900 compared Abbey Wood to the Fen Country and said that the “air [was] heavy with the scent of flowers”.
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