Dig under Riverside Park, near the Royal Arsenal, and you would unearth the remains of a Roman fort, and traces of an Iron Age settlement. The Anglo Saxon place name 'Woolwich' alludes to a trading settlement or port used for wool, which may have come from sheep raised on the marshes of Plumstead.
In 1512, Henry VIII chose Woolwich as the site where his flagship Henri Grace a Dieu would be built, and hence a royal dockyard was established. A rope-making facility soon followed, as did a royal laboratory where explosives, fuses, shot and the like were produced. This was to become the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, the largest munitions producer in the country.
These institutions transformed Woolwich into a prosperous town, which by the mid 19th century was spilling over into the neighbouring parishes of Plumstead and Charlton.
Woolwich Common also became the home of the Royal Artillery.
Much earlier, Woolwich also crossed the river. In 1086, for example, we know that it included a chunk of land on the north side of the Thames, now known as North Woolwich. This remained until 1965, when North Woolwich was transferred to the new Borough of Newham.
The free Woolwich Ferry started operating in 1308.
Woolwich Town Hall
Woolwich Town Hall is also a significant historical point with celebrated tributes to famous citizens of Royal Greenwich.
Part of Kent
Woolwich was, in fact, unique in that it was a part of Kent, but also lay partly north of the Thames in Essex.