Ingress Abbey

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Template:Copy edit Template:Infobox building Ingress Abbey is a Jacobean style country house in the hamlet of Greenhithe, England, United Kingdom, and was the seat of the Viscount Duncannon.

Ingress Abbey was one of the filming locations for the "The Missing Prime Minister" episode of the ITV television drama Agatha Christie's Poirot."


The Ingress Estate was a Palace in the hamlet of Greenhithe. In 1363, the manor was endowed upon the Prioress and Abbey of the Dominican Sisters in Dartford by Edward III (1307–1377).<ref name=hasted>Template:Cite web</ref>

During the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the estate was confiscated and sold, with the proceeds used to finance the wars of Henry VIII of England. According to legend, the Abbess of Dartford put a curse on Henry VIII and all his male descendants as a punishment for confiscating the estate. This curse was to pass to all future owners of the estate, such that no male heir should ever live to inherit the estate.<ref name=hasted/>

King Henry VIII of England kept the site and rebuilt it as a country retreat for himself, used as a stop when traveling to the coast. In 1540, Sir Richard Long was made keeper of the site, for which he was paid $8 a day. In 1548, the King-in consideration of the compulsory surrender of certain lands in Surrey-granted the priory and manor of Dartford<ref name=hasted/> to Anne of Cleves.

After King Henry's death, seven of the nuns (who had already been permitted by Queen Mary to re-establish the convent at King's Langley Priory, Hertfordshire, with Elizabeth Cressener as prioress) were permitted to return to Dartford. However, in 1559, visitors from the Privy Council came to Dartford and tendered the oaths of supremacy and uniformity, first to the provincial prior and then to each of the nuns separately. All refused to take the oaths. The visitors then sold the goods of the convent at a very low rate, paid the debts of the house, divided what little remained among the sisters, and ordered them to leave within twenty-four hours. The band of Dominican exiles, consisting of two priests, the prioress, four choir-nuns, and four lay sisters, and a young girl not yet professed, joined the nuns of Syon House, Middlesex (now London) and crossed to the Netherlands. Queen Elizabeth then granted the estate to Edward Darbyshire and John Bere, who purchased much of the lands of Dartford Priory made available by the dissolution of the monasteries.<ref name=hasted/>

The estate was then passed to Jones, then Whaley, Thomas Holloway, Shires; then in the midst of war in 1649 the estate, including the mansion house, manor, farm, lime kiln, wharf, and land (including the chalk cliffs and salt and freshwater marshes), passed to Captain Edward Brent of Southwark for £1122. It was sold in 1748 to William Viscount Duncannon, who on his father's death succeeded him as Earl of Bessborough and Baron Ponsonby of Sysonby. He lived at Ingress with his wife Carolina, eldest daughter of William Duke of Devonshire. He greatly improved the seat and reputedly commissioned Capability Brown to landscape the grounds (though evidence for this is lacking). In 1760, Carolina died at Ingress after losing several children. The property was then sold to John Calcraft, MP for Rochester.<ref name=hasted/>

While under the ownership of William Haverlock as a result of the war with Napoleon's France, plans were drawn up for a large dockyard to be built from Northfleet to Greenhithe, including the Ingress estate. The manor house was demolished but the plan was discarded, leaving the estate without a house.

In 1820, a wealthy lawyer named James Harmer purchased the land, and in 1833 built his Elizabethan-style mansion, Ingress Abbey, on the banks of the Thames. He provided his architect, Charles Moreing, with £120,000 for the construction of follies, grottoes, and hermit's caves. The author Eliza Cook lived and wrote some of her works at Ingress.<ref name="britishlistedbuildings1">Template:Cite web</ref>

In the 1880s, the Shah of Persia sailed up the Thames, and noted that "the only thing worth mentioning at Greenhithe was a mansion standing amid trees on a green carpet extending down to the water's edge."

By the early 20th century, Harmer's descendants had sold off a large part of the grounds for development into the sprawling Empire Paper Mills. The rest of the garden was left to go to seed and the house was allowed to fall into decay.

The estate has been redeveloped with modern housing. The house and lawn itself have been restored.



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