Bendish Sluice

Bendish marsh is a field behind the area used by the Enderbys – MC5 on the Skinner map and 264 on the tithe map. 1612 a field called ‘Short Bendish’ was in the occupation of Innocent Lanyer with a tenement, yard and wharf. Lanyer was one of a family of court musicians resident in Greenwich

In the 1770s it had been leased by a Thomas and John Jee and in 1843 it was marshland in use by a John Field. Its southern boundary is that of Bendish Sluice and eventually formed the ropewalk. Coles Child began negotiations to lease it in 1855 but in 1856 it was leased to a Mr. MacKenzie. In 1864 it became part of the Telegraph Construction Works.

Bendish Sluice emerges between the two jetties at Enderby’s Wharf. It dates from before 1622 – the date at which the Commissioner’s Minutes start. It seems likely that it is named after someone who was involved – perhaps paid for – the drainage of Greenwich Marsh and therefore, if Bendish could be traced, might give some clues about the actual drainage work.  (note October 2014 – the sluice appears to have been removed by developers)

Dugdale cites an Act of 1546 which, while empowering the levy of a rate for the maintance of ‘New or Combe Marsh’ comments on the neglect of the walls and banks ‘anciently’ made for their protection. Thus in the mid-sixteenth century the government was only able to say that the marshland had been claimed an extremely long time ago – and to make provisions for upkeep. It is a matter of speculation that previous arrangements for maintenance might have broken down following the reformation. I

It is also a matter of speculation that the name ‘Bendish’ dates from the Tudor period and not from an earlier period. Members of the Bendish family were certainly prominent in Tudor times – one was an ambassador, who endowed Queen’s College Cambridge, and a later Bendish was to marry Cromwell’s granddaughter. However, it has not been possible to pin down any one member with an interest in either drainage or in Greenwich. It should be noted one field is known as Bendish Marsh and it may be that, if the ownership of this plot could be traced, that a Bendish could be identified.

steps and sluice
The sluice emerges from under the steps

In the mid-seventeenth century Sir William Hooker, of Crooms Hill, married Susannah Bendish, daughter of Thomas Bendish of Steeple Bumstead, Essex.

It should be noted however that the name Bendish, in connection with marsh drainage, can also be seen at Barton Bendish in Cambridgeshire – a village surrounded by sluices and drainage ditches.

In 2002 Groundwork said “Bendish Sluice. The historic sluice that emerges via a decaying timber-surrounded outfall chamber dates from the drainage of Greenwich marsh, possibly by Dutch Engineers prior to the 17th century. Within the industrial land bordering
Amylum U.K. Ltd’s site is a remnant uncovered section of the sluice of ecological importance, although the area is currently stagnant. A redundant sluice control valve on the footpath was removed by Greenwich Council in 2000. Proposed works (Groundwork): Refurbishment of the sluice outlet (programmed for 2003, subject to EA and PLA approval), and possible restoration of open water and marsh land within industrial site

Return to Enderby Wharf


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