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Plumstead Common, including Winns Common
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Plumstead Common  
The name Plumstead comes from the many orchards once in the area; the land was good for growing fruit as well as grazing and as a consequence the village grew rich. The eastern part of Plumstead Common between King's Highway and Lakedale Road is called Winns Common, and is said to have been settled by ancient Britons. Several burial mounds were found in the area, as well as Roman relics. One mound remains on Winns Common.

The land around Plumstead had belonged to the Monks of Lesnes Abbey until Henry VIII closed the abbey during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. From 1539 the Manor had numerous owners until 1736 when it was bequeathed to Queen's College, Oxford, but it was badly managed in the 19th century.

Houses were built faster and faster with the population of Plumstead rising from 1,166 in 1801 to 24,502 in 1861. Much of the Common was built on, to the increasing concern of the local people. In 1874 the army was granted permission to use Plumstead Common for a riding school and drill ground for soldiers at Woolwich and the College then proposed leasing it to them on a permanent basis. Winns Common was used as practice ground for horses and gun carriages. On 1 July 1876 a demonstration led by John de Morgan of the Commons Protection League was staged with a procession from Woolwich Arsenal to the common to remove fencing that had been installed; this was replaced overnight and rioting ensued the following day. De Morgan was arrested, imprisoned for a month and fined 50 for inciting the riot. The people's right to graze animals, dig sand and gravel, cut turf and fern, and enjoy themselves on the Common were fiercely defended. As a result, in 1877 the Metropolitan Board of Works purchased Plumstead and Winns Commons for 9,000 from Queen's College in order to preserve them for public open space.

In 1900 responsibility for their care passed to the Metropolitan Board of Woolwich, in 1965 to the Borough of Greenwich. The Slade, a small dell with steeply sloping sides and a pond at the bottom, at the northern end of Plumstead Common, was bought by the council in c.1961. Plumstead Common Environmental Group works hard in all sorts of ways to look after the Common, and help people to enjoy it.

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