Abney Park, in Stoke Newington, one of London’s “Magnificent Seven” Victorian cemeteries, is one step closer to securing almost £5 million in restoration funds.
The project was awarded £315,000 last week by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund to develop the plans for a major restoration scheme. A second successful application June next year would see the project awarded a full grant of almost £5m.
Shelagh Taylor, Chair of the Abney Park Trust which runs the Cemetary in conjuction with Hackney Council said: “This is absolutely fantastic news. The Trust is working hard to support the on-going work through outreach and education. We are also fundraising through theatre and events to continue to invest in the site. Plans for this exciting development will maintain the unique character of Abney Park and enhance the space for future users.”
Councillor Feryal Demirci, Hackney Council cabinet member for parks, said: “We are delighted to receive this initial support from the National Lottery. This project will ensure the park is well maintained with local, sustainable materials, reversing its decline and ensuring future generations can enjoy a magical walk through Hackney’s past”.
The plans include further restoration work to the cemetery’s historic chapel, the oldest surviving non-denominational chapel in Europe, improving entrance gate accessibility and creating space for an on-site masonry and a woodwork studio.
In May 1840 William Hosking built the chapel to be used as funerary chapel rather than a place of worship. Vandalism and fire damage have resulted in the chapel being closed for many years and categorised as a building “at risk” by English Heritage.
It will also include recently completed work to restore two listed monuments that were at risk and on-going fundraising campaign to restore the monument of Dr Issac Watts, a prolific hymn writer and poet who lived in a house on the site for 36 years before it became a cemetery.
The cemetery went into administration in the late 70s and Abney Park was abandoned, leading to Hackney council taking over ownership in 1978 which manages it in partnership with the Trust.