Abney Park set for £4.4m improvement work

Abney Park’s historic chapel will be brought back into use as a venue after Hackney Council was awarded £4.4m by the National Lottery to improve the park. 

The funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund will also see major work to the rest of the gothic cemetery - one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ - including a new cafe and classroom at the park’s main entrance and a new accessible entrance on Church Street, which will encourage more visitors to the park to enjoy its history and biodiversity. 

As part of the improvements, an environmentally friendly heat pump will be installed in the park to provide heat and hot water to the park’s new buildings. 

The Council will contribute an additional £710,000 to the National Lottery funding, which will bring total investment to over £5m.

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney
We’re committed to investing in our parks and green spaces - of which a record 27 have green flags - so we can encourage more people to come and enjoy their incredible variety, history and biodiversity. High quality green spaces are not only beautiful, but a vital common resource that improve wellbeing, help us respond to climate change and bring communities together.

We’re thrilled to have been awarded this funding to protect and improve Abney Park Cemetery, which has a special place in the hearts of people in Hackney. Radicals, anti-slavery campaigners and dissenters all form part of its incredible history, which the new cafe, classroom and restored chapel will help to open up to more people and generate income towards the ongoing improvement of the park. I’d like to thank the National Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund, as well as the Abney Park Trust, Abney Park User Group and officers in the Council’s parks service for their belief in this project and work to make this happen.
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney
London’s parks and cemeteries are vital spaces for wildlife and communities and today’s funding will ensure a bright future for both at Abney Park. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, since 1994 more than £950million has been invested into regenerating the UK’s parks and cemeteries and we’re delighted that Abney Park is part of that incredible funding story.
Stuart McLeod, Area Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Abney Park Trust is delighted at the award of this funding which will greatly improve the facilities at the Park, make it more sustainable, and enable us to put on more events and activities. This will in turn attract more people to the Park.  We add our thanks to The National Heritage Lottery Fund and all those that have been involved in this project.  We look forward to further involvement in its implementation.
Shelagh Taylor, Chair of the Abney Park Trust
This is excellent news - it will be exciting to watch the planned developments come to fruition which will eventually make the Park more accessible and an even nicer place to be in and enjoy. Well done to all those involved in the bid.
Lorraine Tillett, Secretary of the Abney Park User Group

Abney Park is one of Hackney’s 58 green spaces. It is listed as a Grade II park on Historic England’s register of parks and gardens of historic interest. As one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries in London, it’s the resting place of around 200,000 people in 60,000 graves ranging from elaborate monuments to path-side common grave markers. It covers 12.5 hectares and is located between Stoke Newington Church Street and Stoke Newington High Street.

Abney Park Chapel was designed by William Hosking and is the oldest surviving non-denominational chapel in Europe. It was completed in 1842 and functioned purely as a chapel for funerals – not a place of worship – with its non-denominational design meaning it could be used by anyone.

Fire and vandalism gutted the Chapel, currently on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ Register, in the 1980s, and the Council hoarded off the building in 2012 to protect the public until work to restore the structure of the building was completed in 2017. 

Work to restore the interior of the Chapel will include a new floor, new toilet facilities, electricity, lighting and new seating at balcony level. 

The new classroom and cafe will be located at the Stoke Newington High Street entrance, providing refreshment for park visitors, as well as interpretation of the site’s incredible history.

To find out more about Abney Park, visit www.hackney.gov.uk/abney-park.

National Lottery and public parks 

Since 1996, more than £950million raised by National Lottery players has been used to support the regeneration, conservation and increased enjoyment of public parks and cemeteries across the UK. Find out more about how to apply at www.heritagefund.org.uk