Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Lesnes Abbey Woods daffodils

Posted on by royvickery |

Lesnes Abbey Woods, in the London Borough of Bexley, contain the London area’s only sizable population of wild daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus).  The Abbey, founded in 1178 struggled throughout its life and closed in the 1520s.  It’s said that daffodils sometimes mark the sites of former monasteries.

James Britten and Robert Holland in their Dictionary of English Plant-names, 1886: 541, record that in 1797 people at Frittlestone, near Torrington, Devon, knew daffodils as gregories, ‘a name that struck us on account of its coinciding with the appellation of the order to which the neighbouring monastery belonged (the Canons of St Gregory)’.

90 years later Wendy Boase, in her Folklore of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, 1976: 115, noted:                                                                                                            ‘In both Hampshire and the Isle of Wight it was generally said that wild daffodils indicated the site of a monastery.  St Urian’s Copse, a short distance from Brading on the Island, is well known for its primroses [Primula vulgaris] and daffodils.  There is a tradition that daffodils grow in profusion on only one side of a track running through the copse because a religious house once stood there.’

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