London Borough of Hackney
Greater London England
Postal Code: N16
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
Abney Park in Stoke Newington, London, formerly one of the ‘magnificent seven' garden cemeteries of London, is now a woodland memorial park and Local Nature Reserve managed by the Abney Park Trust.The park originated in the eighteenth century when the land was laid out by Lady Mary Abney. It was, for many years, home to Dr Isaac Watts, the ‘father of hymnology', whose ‘Busy Little Bee' and ‘O God our help in ages past' are well known today. By the early nineteenth century, the grounds were used, in part, by a novel Quaker school for girls founded by William Allen and Grizel Birkbeck. Its centre-piece, the Abney Park Chapel, was deigned to be a landmark to religious toleration, being open to all. The original trust cemetery was sold to become a commercial company in the 1880s, who ran it for almost a hundred years before it became insolvent, and closed in 1978, passing the property to the London borough of Hackney. Ideas for the restoration of the chapel as a visitor centre and for the future management of the historic park with community involvement, were developed during the 1980s. Since 1991 the park has been leased to the Abney Park Trust as a nature reserve, educational facility, and memorial park, in partnership with the freeholder, the London Borough of Hackney. The Council remains responsible for the residual cemetery function, being a burial authority whose practices and duties towards the maintenance of the park and the relatives of those interred here, are governed by the Local Authorities Cemeteries Order 1977. However certain areas are closed altogether to burial and headstone rights acquired from the former cemetery company, including all paths. The fortunes of the park as a garden cemetery began to decline after the First World War, but until this date a galaxy of people, ranging from popular Music Hall stars to the founders of the Salvation Army (William and Catherine Booth) chose to be buried here. Music Hall and variety artistes commemorated at Abney Park include Albert Chavalier and George Leybourne. Chartists include James Bronterre O'Brien, Henry Vincent and Benjamin Lucraft. Prominent nonconformists (ministers, missionaries authors and abolitionists), include Dr Newman Hall, Dr John Pye Smith, Dr Andrew Reed, Dr Thomas Binney, William Brock, James Sherman, Emily Gosse, Thomas Burchell and Samuel Oughton. Notable horticulturists include James Shirley Hibberd and Conrad Loddiges. Educational philanthropists include Sir Hugh Owen and Samuel Morley. Joanna Vassa, daughter of the famous black author and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano,is also buried here; as is the black author and playwright Eric Walrond.