The abbey was founded about the year 1135 by Walter de Montfichet. It was a ’daughter house’ of the monastery of Savigney, France. The Cistercian Monks here were known as the ’white monks’ due to their white habits. The pathway which is now Abbey Road may even predate the abbey - it became a route from the church in West Ham Church to the abbey.
The abbey had a particular responsibility for the upkeep of the nearby bridge over the River Lea.
Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith wrote a history of East London in 1939 and discussed the nursery rhyme ’London Bridge Is Falling Down’. The verses in the rhyme about repairing the bridge with bread, iron, gold and silver applied to the Lea bridge nearby he proposed as the monks used these very items in their time.
Henry VIII dissolved the abbey and the duty to drain the marsh was passed to the new owners of the lands that once belonged to the abbey.
Abbey Road (by then Abbey Lane
) was cut in half during the 19th century when the Eastern Counties and Thames Junction railway was built.
The Adam and Eve inn was built on the site of the old Abbey as was industry.
In the 1980s, with the upcoming building of the Jubilee Line and a depot, archaeologist took a chance to examine the old abbey grounds.