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Final touches to £4.2million Lesnes Abbey Wood project complete despite ‘serious challenges’

PUBLISHED: 16:32 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:16 11 September 2017

Lesnes Abbey Wood opening, Heritage Lottery Fund trustee Jon Sheaff, Bexley council leader Teresa O�Neill  and councillor Peter Craske

Lesnes Abbey Wood opening, Heritage Lottery Fund trustee Jon Sheaff, Bexley council leader Teresa O�Neill and councillor Peter Craske

Archant

£3.4million of the project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund

The discovery of a medieval ‘burial ground’ along with a key contractor going into administration has not stopped work completing at Lesnes Abbey Wood.

The 88-hectare park, covered mostly in ancient woodland, has undergone a £4.2million transformation over the past three years, most notably with the introduction of Lesnes Lodge.

Having opened in November last year, the lodge played host to a celebration of the improvement project on Thursday, with councillors, volunteers and key partners all attending the event.

The lodge stands on top of the remains of a 1930’s municipal building which was demolished in 2015, but there are far more historic remains across the park, including the 12th century remains of Lesnes Abbey, after which the park is named.

Inspired by the site’s history, the project, which was partly funded by a £3.4million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, has also created an outdoor classroom next to the park’s fossil bed.

A 6.3 hectare share of the site, include the fossil bed, is a designated site of special scientific interest after fossils dating back 60million years were discovered.

The work has not been without his problems, in the spring of 2015, human and animal remains, including an entire horse’s skeleton were discovered along with centuries-old building materials, meant work had to be reorganiesd to safeguard the area’s heritage.

Then, in June last year, contractor Blakedown Landscapes Operations Ltd went into administration, slowing down work until a replacement could be found.

Despite the problems the final landscaping works finished earlier this month.

Peter Craske, cabinet member for community safety, environment and leisure, explained some of the other developments: “The new Monks Garden uses features that would have existed at the time the 12th century abbey was in use, including medicinal herbs and plants growing in the bright and colourful garden.

“Various art installations can be found throughout the park, including stunning wood carvings, ironwork, stone sculptures and a mosaic. There’s also a new parkour area, the first of its kind in the borough, along with new outdoor fitness areas. There’s even a place to grab a bite to eat at Abbey Good Coffee, which is part of the Lodge.

“These improvements were made possible thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a team of talented and committed Members, council officers, professional specialists and contractors who did great work together to help deliver this ambitious project. This is now a fabulous park with something for everyone and a place where residents can spend a grand day out.”

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