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Abney Park, Hackney

Abney is one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ nineteenth-century London cemeteries. People such as Joanna Vassa, daughter of the anti-slavery campaigner Olauda Equiana and the Chartist Bronterre O’Brien are buried here. Unlike others of the seven, such as Highgate and Kensal Green, Abney was non-denominational and popular with nonconformists and radicals.  

Burials had more or less finished by the late 1970s when the cemetery was taken over by the local authority and developed as a woodland nature reserve while retaining and respecting the many fine Victorian and Edwardian monuments. Working closely with local experts, acta prepared a conservation plan that reconciled heritage and nature conservation objectives and formed the basis of a successful first stage bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Client - London Borough of Hackney

  1. The listed entrance gates are in Egyptian revival style, which was seen as suitable for cemeteries of all types
  2. A book promoting Abney as a garden cemetery was published in 1840. This figure shows the original Abney House and the idea of carefully sited burials in a garden setting. But the cemetery soon became very crowded
  3. Plots on the main routes through the cemetery were sold at a premium and the main axis became full of elaborate monuments
  4. Despite the density of burials, the underlying soil variation survives. Dry, healthy soils supporting bracken are confined to one corner of the site, which is being managed to give bracken/birch woodland.