Abney Park Cemetery in north London is one of the so-called "Magnificent Seven" cemeteries inspired by Père-Lachaise in Paris, and established to provide final resting-places for Londoners in the earlier part of the nineteenth century. Opened in 1840, it was laid out on land that had once been the estate of Sir Thomas Abney, a Nonconformist who had been Lord Mayor of London in 1700-01.

Perhaps the most famous monument here is the statue of the educator, theologian and hymn-writer Isaac Watts. In fact, Watts was laid to rest in Bunhill Fields inside the city limits. But he was closely connected with the Abney family. He and Lady Mary Abney had helped lay out the park here when it was privately owned, and he died at Abney House. Moreover, he too was a dissenter, and Abney Park lies in an area known for its large numbers of dissenters.

Fittingly, then, this was the first completely non-denominational cemetery in the country, with only the one chapel rather than the conventional pairing of Anglican and Nonconformist chapels. This little Gothic structure, like the entrance with its "lodges and piers in the form of Egyptian pylons" (Rutherford 21), was designed by William Hosking (1800-1861), who became the first Professor of Architecture at King's College, London.

Abney Park covers 30 acres. Many members of the Salvation Army are buried here, including its founder William Booth and his wife Catherine. After years of neglect, it is now being restored as an important green area for people and wildlife alike in this part of London. — Jacqueline Banerjee

The Cemetery

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“Entrance Lodges, Gates and Railings to Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington.” British Listed Buildings. Web. 8 September 2012. [Listing NGR: 3396 12/640]

“Mortuary Chapel of Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington.” British Listed Buildings. Web. 8 September 2012. [Listing NGR: TQ3336386811]

Rutherford, Sarah. The Victorian Cemetery. Botley, Oxford: Shire, 2008.

Last modified 6 March 2013