ST MARY MAGDALENE CHURCH
A place of Christian worship for over 1000 years!
A history of the
borough of woolwich
~ Written in 1909
WOOLWICH, a S.E. metropolitan borough of London, England, bounded W. by Greenwich and Lewisham, and extending N., E. and S., to the boundary of the county of London. Pop. (1901) 117,178. Area, 8276.6 acres. Its N. boundary is in part the river Thames, but it includes two separate small areas on the N. bank, embracing a portion of the district called N. Woolwich. The area is second to that of Wandsworth among the metropolitan boroughs, but is not wholly built over. The most populous part is that lying between Shooter's Hill Road (the Roman Watling Street) and the river, the site falling from an elevation of 418 ft. at Shooter's Hill to the river level. To the E. lies Plumstead, with the Plumstead marshes bordering the river to the N., and in the S. of the borough is Eltham. A large working population is employed in the Royal Arsenal, which occupies a large area on the river-
Woolwich (Wulewich) is mentioned in a grant of land by King Edward in 964 to the abbey of St Peter at Ghent. In Domesday the manor is mentioned as consisting of 63 acres of land. The Roman Watling Street crossed Shooter's Hill, and a Roman cemetery is supposed to have occupied the site of the Royal Arsenal, numerous Roman urns and fragments of Roman pottery having been dug up in the neighbourhood. Woolwich seems to have been a small fishing village until in the beginning of the 16th century it rose into prominence as a dockyard and naval station. There is evidence that ships were built at Woolwich in the reign of Henry VII., but it was. with the purchase by Henry VIII. of two parcels of land in the manor of Woolwich, called Boughton's Docks, that the foundation of the: town's prosperity was laid, the launching of the "Harry Grace de. Dieu," of 1000 tons burden, making an epoch in its history. Woolwich remained the chief dockyard of the English navy until the introduction of iron ship building, but the dockyard was closed in 1869. The town became the headquarters of the Royal Artillery on the establishment of a separate branch of this service in the reign of George I. Land was probably acquired for a military post and store depot at Woolwich in 1667, in order to erect batteries against the invading Dutch fleet, although in 1664 mention is made of storehouses and sheds for repairing ship carriages. In 1668 guns, carriages. and stores were concentrated at Woolwich, and in 1695 the laboratory was moved hither from Greenwich. Before 1716 ordnance was obtained from private manufacturers and proved by the Board of Ordnance. In 1716 an explosion took place at the Moorfields. Foundry, and it was decided to build a royal brass foundry at the "Tower Place," as the establishment at Woolwich was called until 1805. Founders were advertised for, and records show that Andrew Schalch of Douai was selected. In 1741 a school of instruction for the military branch of the ordnance was established here. It was. not until 1805, however, that the collection of establishments at Woolwich became the Royal Arsenal.
See C. H. Grinling, T. A. Ingram and B. C. Polkinghorne, Survey and Record of Woolwich and West Kent (Woolwich, 1909). 1909).
© Classic Encyclopaedia (Based on the 11th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, pub.
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