St Marys, IG11

Place name

An unusual street name in the sense that it has no noun attached. When it was founded in about AD666 by Erkwenwald (later Bishop of London), Barking Abbey was dedicated to St Mary. It was later also dedicated to St Ethelburga, Erkenwald’s sister, who became its first abbess and for whom it was built. Erkenwald also built a monastery in Chertsey where he installed himself as Abbott. Barking Abbey existed for almost 900 years until its closure in 1539 as part of King Henry VIII’s land grab against the Catholic Church. Demolition started in June 1540 and took about 18 months to complete, with only the north gate (demolished in 1885), and Curfew Tower, one of the abbey’s three gateways, left standing. Some of its building materials were reused, such as its lead which was used to repair Greenwich Palace’s roof, and some of the stone used to construct King Henry VIII’s new manor at Dartford. The site of the abbey itself was sold and used as a quarry and a farm. Today the ruined remains form part of a public open space known as Abbey Green. There were many churches dedicated to St Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. The street was laid out before 1897.



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