The oldest non-denominational chapel in Europe is on course to reopen in Hackney after nearly four years.
Hackney Council boarded up Abney Park Chapel, which is in Stoke Newington’s Abney Park Cemetery, in 2012 for safety concerns when the building continued to decay after being hit by fire and vandalism in the 1980s. The church had been categorised as an ‘at risk’ building by English Heritage.
William Hosking, the first professor of architecture and civil engineering at King’s College, London, designed the chapel, which was used primarily for funerals and is surrounded by nearly 200,000 graves, including that of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army.
John Baldock, Abney Park trust manager said: “Right now there are no computer generated plans of what the building is meant to look like. We’re just working on the stabilisation, so things like amending the roof and cleaning up missing architectural details along with broken pipes and gutters.”
A dual project between Historic England and Hackney Council will restore the 19th century Gothic chapel and refurbish its covered horse and carriage entrance. The opening comes as part of a series of development plans for the cemetery in Stoke Newington, led by the Abney Park Development Board.
Baldock said: “Our aim really is to make the building safe and secure again so that we’re able to hold small events and hopefully down the line we’ll have a functioning venue space.”
Rebecca Barrett, of Historic England, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the repair of the mortuary chapel, an imposing Gothic revival building which sits at the heart of Abney Park Cemetery.
The chapel is set to reopen by late October or mid November of this year.