An ancient burial ground was discovered during a recently completed multi-million pound improvement project at Lesnes Abbey Wood.

The improvements were financed by the Council with support from a £3.4 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Parks for People Programme.

The scheme was practically completed on September 7 but faced delays due to the discovery of an ancient burial ground, as well as a key contractor going into administration.

Councillor Peter Craske, cabinet member for community safety, environment and leisure, said: “The new Lesnes Lodge offers space for fun and educational activities, where residents of all ages can enjoy learning about the site’s rich history, environmental and scientific importance.

"The new Monks Garden uses features that would have existed at the time the 12th century abbey was in use, including medicinal herbs and plants growing in the bright and colourful garden. Various art installations can be found throughout the park, including stunning wood carvings, ironwork, stone sculptures and a mosaic. There’s also a new Parkour area, the first of its kind in the borough, along with new outdoor fitness areas. There’s even a place to grab a bite to eat at Abbey Good Coffee, which is part of the Lodge.

“These improvements were made possible thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a team of talented and committed Members, Council Officers, professional specialists and contractors who did great work together to help deliver this ambitious project. This is now a fabulous park with something for everyone and a place where residents can spend a grand day out.”

The park stretches over 88 hectares, most of which is ancient woodland, and has a site containing prehistoric fossils.

There is an outdoor classroom next to the fossil pit, where school children, families and researchers can visit and find the remains of sharks, other marine animals and mammals that lived and died in and near Blackheath Sea that covered the area 55 million years ago.

Other improvements include a new pump track, trim trail, outdoor gym, table tennis and picnic tables and several outdoor learning experiences such as a heathland classroom. The recreation area and children’s playground have also been improved.

The investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Bexley Council will continue to fund a partnership and activity plan, which aims to ensure the continued development and improvement of the park by encouraging greater public use and community involvement.