||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (November 2013)|
Ingress Abbey, front facade
|Status||Grade II listed|
|Location||Greenhithe, Kent, UK|
Ingress Abbey is a Jacobean style country house in the hamlet of Greenhithe, England, United Kingdom, and was the seat of the Viscount Duncannon. It was one of the filming locations for the episode "The Missing Prime Minister" on the ITV television drama Agatha Christie's Poirot. 
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 on to all future owners of the estate, such that no male heir would ever live to inherit the estate.
King Henry VIII kept the site and rebuilt it as a country retreat for himself and used it as a stop when traveling to the coast. In 1540, Sir Richard Long was paid £8 a day to be keeper of the site. In 1548, the King in-consideration of the compulsory surrender of certain lands in Surrey—granted the priory and manor of Dartford to Anne of Cleves.
After King Henry's death, seven nuns (who had already been permitted by Queen Mary were permitted to return to Dartfordto re-establish the convent at King's Langley Priory, Hertfordshire, with Elizabeth Cressener as prioress). 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.
The estate was then passed to Jones, then Whaley, Thomas Holloway, Shires;[clarification needed] 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) were 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.
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.
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, with the first phase completed in 2001. The developers, Crest Nicholson, spent £6 million restoring the abbey, follies and grounds as part of the redevelopment scheme.
- Good Stuff IT Services. "Ingress Abbey - Swanscombe and Greenhithe - Kent - England". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "On Location with Poirot".
- Edward Hassed (1797). "Parishes: Swanscombe". The History and the Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 2. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- "Ingress Abbey". Garyvaughanpostcards.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "History of Ingress Abbey, Greenhithe". Retrieved 22 August 2014.
- "Ingress Park Case Study". National Archives: Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
- "Ingress Park". Crestnicholson.com. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
Media related to Ingress Abbey at Wikimedia Commons