Place:Woolwich, London, England

Watchers
NameWoolwich
TypeParish (ancient), Civil parish
Coordinates51.488°N 0.063°E
Located inLondon, England     (1889 - 1965)
Also located inKent, England     ( - 1889)
Greater London, England     (1965 - )
See alsoBlackheath Hundred, Kent, Englandancient county division in which it was located
Greenwich (London Borough), Greater London, Englandmetropolitan borough covering the area since 1965
the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Woolwich is a town in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, in southeast London, England. Originally in Kent, it has been part of the London metropolitan area since the 19th century. In 1965, most of the former Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich became part of Greenwich Borough, of which it remains the administrative centre.

Throughout the 17th, 18th, 19th and most of the 20th century, Woolwich was an important military and industrial town. It is a river crossing point, with the Woolwich Ferry and the Woolwich foot tunnel crossing to North Woolwich on the north side of the River Thames.

Woolwich remained a relatively small Kentish settlement until the beginning of the 16th century, when it began to develop into a maritime, military and industrial centre. In 1512 it became home to Woolwich Dockyard, originally known as "The King's Yard", founded by Henry VIII to built his flagship Henry Grace à Dieu ("The Great Harry"). Many great ships were built here, such as the Prince Royal, the Sovereign of the Seas, the Royal Charles, the Dolphin and the Beagle. The dockyard went through many ups and downs but survived for three and a half centuries, closing down in 1869.

Following the establishment of the dockyard, Martin Bowes who had gathered a fortune at the Royal Mint, bought riverside holdings in Woolwich and Plumstead in the 1530s, some of it former church land that had become available after the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1530s). His mansion was Tower Place, which was gradually closed in by a ropeyard (1570s) and warehouses with open-air storage known initially as Gun Wharf or Gun Yard, then The Warren (1651/71), later the Royal Arsenal (1805). The arsenal developed from a place of storage into a collection of military factories (Royal Ordnance Factories), playing a central role in Britain's imperial phase and its military and industrial expansion. At wartime, tens of thousands of workers found employment here. Between wars, unemployment loomed. Other military establishments that were rooted in the arsenal were the Royal Artillery (1716) and the Royal Military Academy (1741). They both moved to Woolwich Common in the late 18th century. In the 19th and 20th century several large barracks were built, as well as military schools and hospitals. To this day, the town retains an army base at the Royal Artillery Barracks and Napier Lines Barracks.

Woolwich is situated 13.7 km from Charing Cross (a central point from which distances are measured). It has a 2.5 km long frontage to the south bank of the Thames. From the riverside it rises up quickly along the northern slopes of Shooter's Hill towards the common (60 m) and the ancient London-Dover Road (132 m). The ancient parish of Woolwich, more or less the present-day wards Woolwich Riverside and Woolwich Common, comprises 297 ha (735 acres). This included North Woolwich, which is now part of the Borough of Newham. The ancient parishes of Plumstead and Eltham became part of the civil parish of Woolwich in 1930. Parts of the wards Glyndon and Shooter's Hill are often referred to as Woolwich, although not accepted by all. The nearest areas are Abbey Wood, Blackheath, Charlton, Eltham, Greenwich, Kidbrooke, Lewisham, North Woolwich, Plumstead, Shooter's Hill, Thamesmead and Welling.

For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Woolwich. The above is a condensation of a very long interesting article.

Kent Research Tips

  • Kent County Council Archive, Local Studies and Museums Service. James Whatman Way, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1LQ. This incorporates the Centre for Kentish Studies in Maidstone and the East Kent Archives Centre near Dover.
  • Canterbury Cathedral Archives see the Archives web pages on the Canterbury Catherdral site.
  • For information on the area around the Medway Towns, have a look at Medway Council's CityArk site.
  • Ordnance Survey Maps of England and Wales - Revised: Kent illustrates the parish boundaries of Kent when rural districts were still in existence and before Greater London came into being. The map publication year is 1931. An earlier map of 1900 may also be useful. The maps blow up to show all the parishes and many of the small villages and hamlets. Maps in this series are now downloadable for personal use.
  • Census records for Kent are available on FamilySearch, Ancestry and FindMyPast. The first site is free; the other two are pay sites but have access to microfilmed images. Steve Archer produced a very useful round-up of the available sources, but this information may not be up to date.
  • Registration Districts in Kent for the period 1837 to the present. By drilling down through the links you can follow any parish through the registration districts to which it was attached.
  • England, Kent, Parish Registers, 1538-1911 The full database from Kent Archives Office, Maidstone, has been available online from FamilySearch since June 2016.
  • Kent had five family history societies (now only four):
  • Volume 2 of the Victoria County History of Kent (published 1926) is available online through the auspices of British History Online. It includes accounts of the early history of Canterbury and Rochester cathedrals, and of several sites now within the conurbation of London.
  • Volume 3 of the Victoria County History of Kent (published 1932) This includes the text of, and the index to, the Kent Domesday survey. It has been provided by the Kent Archaeological Society.
  • In place of the other volumes of the Victoria County History, British History Online has transcriptions of the numerous volumes of The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent by Edward Hasted (originally published 1797)
  • English Jurisdictions 1851, a parish finding aid provided by FamilySearch, is particularly helpful in locating parishes in large ancient towns and cities like Canterbury.
  • Kent Probate Records Numerous links provided by Maureen Rawson
  • GENUKI lists other possible sources, however, it does not serve Kent so well as it does some other counties.

Greater London Research Tips

  • See wiki.familysearch.org under "London" and also under "Middlesex", "Surrey" and "Kent" for key information about Greater London's jurisdictions and records, plus links to indexes, reference aids and Family History Library holdings.
  • The London Metropolitan Archives (40 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 0HB) holds records relating to the whole of Greater London. Ancestry (subscription necessary) has produced transcriptions and provides images of lists of baptisms, marriages, and burials in churches across Greater London. These lists start in 1813 and stretch into the 20th century.
  • GENUKI has a long list of websites and archive holders in addition to London Metropolitan Archives above. (The list from GENUKI is not maintained so well that there is never a dead link in it. However, it is often worth googling the title given on the page just in case the contributor has reorganized their website.)
  • GENUKI also has a list of the Archives and Local Studies Libraries for each of the boroughs of Greater London.
  • The London Encyclopaedia by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert. An e-book available online through Google, originally published by Pan Macmillan. There is a search box in the left-hand pane.
  • London Lives. A very useful free website for anyone researching their London ancestors between the years 1690-1800. This is a fully searchable edition of 240,000 manuscripts from eight archives and fifteen datasets, giving access to 3.35 million names.
  • London Ancestor, a website belonging to one of the London family history societies, has a list of transcriptions of directories from the 18th century, listing in one case "all the squares, streets, lanes, courts, yards, alleys, &C. in and about Five Miles of the Metropolis..." In other parts of the same website are maps of various parts of 19th century London and Middlesex.
  • A street-by-street map of London (both sides of the Thames, and stretching from Limehouse and Stepney in the east to Hyde Park and Kensington in the west) drawn by Edward Mogg in 1806. Blows up to a very readable level.
  • Ordnance Survey map of London 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing London parishes just after the reorganization of 1899.
  • Ordnance Survey map of Middlesex 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing Middlesex parishes just after the reorganization of 1899 when much of the former area of Middlesex had been transferred into London.
  • Ordnance Survey map of Surrey 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing Surrey parishes (chiefly Southwark) just after the reorganization of 1899 when the most urban parts of Surrey were transferred into London.
  • Ordnance Survey map of Kent 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing Kent parishes just after the reorganization of 1899 when the most urban part of Surrey had been transferred into London.
  • The proceedings of the Old Bailey, London's central criminal court, 1674-1913. A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court. This website is free to use.
  • Registration Districts in London, Registration Districts in Middlesex, Registration Districts in Surrey, Registration Districts in Kent, are lists of the registration districts used for civil registration (births, marriages and deaths, as well as the censuses). There are linked supporting lists of the parishes which made up each registration district, the dates of formation and abolition of the districts, the General Register Office numbers, and the local archive-holding place. This work has been carried out by Brett Langston under the agency of GENUKI (Genealogy United Kingdom and Ireland) and UKBMD - Births, Marriages, Deaths & Censuses on the Internet.
  • Deceased Online includes four of the "Magnificent Seven" cemeteries (Brompton, Highgate, Kensal Green, and Nunhead) in its inventory of 65 London cemeteries. Transcripts for Abney Park are free with registration online at www.devsys.co.uk/ap/. Ancestry (international subscription necessary) has "London, England, City of London and Tower Hamlets Cemetery Registers, 1841-1966". That leaves West Norwood without comprehensive online access to burial records.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Woolwich. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.