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History of Greenhithe

Greenhithe comes from The Old English 'hythe' meaning 'landing-place', with ‘grene’ as ‘green’; therefore, a ‘green landing place’. The Romans knew Greenhithe as Gretenrsce.


The church at
Greenhithe - dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin - opened on 26 August 1856. In 1991, parishioners helped in the rebuilding of the bell cote, and the rehanging of the bell.


Following the construction of the pier in 1842 Greenhithe, within easy reach of London by pleasure craft, became a popular resort. On 11 August 1863, Queen Victoria boarded the Royal Yacht 'Victoria and Albert' - moored off Greenhithe - amid the eager applause of a large crowd of young and old.


Greenhithe railway station opened on the South Eastern Railway’s North Kent Line, on 30 July 1849.

A shortage of properly trained officers for merchant ships existed in the middle of the 19th Century. William Munton Mullivant, a London merchant, and Richard Green, a Blackwall shipbuilder, had the idea of a training vessel on the Thames. They set up the Worcester Committee in 1861, and instituted a subscription list, which raised over £1000 within six months from ship-owners, underwriters and merchants. The Admiralty loaned the HMS Worcester a 50 gun frigate of 1500 tons. In 1862, the Thames Marine Officer Training School opened, and after temporary berths at Blackwall, Erith and Southend, found her eventual home, in 1871, at
Greenhithe. In 18576, as the college grew, the Admiralty loaned them the Frederick William, renamed the Worcester, a second rate line of battleship with 74 guns. At this time, the name of the school changed to the ‘Thames Nautical Training College, HMS Worcester’. In 1938, the college acquired the Cutty Sark and berthed her alongside the Worcester.


In 1939 during WW2, the cadets moved to Foots Cray Place near Sidcup and handed the Worcester back to the Admiralty. The third Worcester arrived at Greenhithe on 15 January 1946, with the official opening ceremony on Saturday 2 February. Mr W S Everard, on behalf of the village, sent a letter of welcome. The third Worcester - previously the Exmouth - built in 1905 as the first specially commissioned training ship by the navy. At 314ft. in length, 53ft. beam and 181”, mean draft with the upper portion of the hull mild steel, and the lower half iron to prevent corrosion she represented the best of the old "wooden walls" and many of the improvements of the newer ships. In 1954, the Cutty Sark left Greenhithe, to be docked permanently at Greenwich. In 1968, the Thames Nautical Training College became part of the Merchant Navy College at Greenhithe. The Worcester became redundant and sold in 1978, to be broken up.

In 1363, Edward III endowed the Ingress Estate - a seat in the hamlet of
Greenhithe - upon the Prioress and Abbey of Dartford. A short time before the dissolution of the monasteries, Jane Fane Prioress of the convent at Dartford let the estate to Robert Meriel of Swanscombe on a lease at an annual rent of £10, with Richard Grove as tenant. This included the 'liberty to dig and carry off chalk there to the amount of one acre in length and breadth'. At the suppression in the reign of Henry VIII, the estate came under the control of the crown, and Edward VI renewed the lease to Martin Meriel.

Queen Elizabeth granted the estate to Edward Darbshire, and John Bere, who purchased much of the lands of Dartford Priory made available by the dissolution of the monasteries. The estate changed hands many times before the crown purchased it, with a view to the international situation with France, drew up plans for a large dockyard to be built from 
Northfleet to Greenhithe. Having demolished the house and cleared the site, they dropped the project. Alderman James Harmer purchased the land in 1831 and commissioned the Architect Charles Moreing to design a new Abbey, using reclaimed bricks from the old London Bridge.