Groundbreaking marks start of Abney Park restoration project

A ground-breaking ceremony has marked the official start of restoration work at Abney Park, aimed at improving facilities, upgrading buildings and protecting the ecology of the site. 

The Mayor of Hackney was joined by local councillors and representatives from Abney Park Trust, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, Abney Park User Group, the project’s architects and contractors.

The £5m project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The National Lottery Community Fund and Hackney Council. It will bring Abney Park’s chapel back into use and introduce a new café and work spaces at its main entrance. An accessible new entrance on Stoke Newington Church Street will also be opened. 

Although the park will remain open during the construction works, certain areas and entrances will be closed to the public at different times. The project is currently expected to be completed by spring 2023.

The work will create a new building to provide a learning space, a new café and public toilets and refurbish existing buildings to provide offices and a base for volunteers. Already a local haven for biodiversity, new species-rich lawn and grassland meadow areas will be introduced.

In addition to new buildings, the Abney Park project will restore the park’s much-loved chapel, enabling it to be used for wedding ceremonies, concerts and other community events. As part of the project, a new activity programme will also be launched, designed to engage new visitors and increase volunteering schemes.

Cllr Caroline Woodley, Cabinet Member for Families, Early Years, Parks and Play
I am delighted that we are starting work on this fantastic project to restore Abney Park to its former glory. The park has a fascinating history and has always had a special place in the hearts of residents. 

As the resting place of many local anti-slavery campaigners and dissenters, it is an ideal location to introduce new and inclusive learning facilities, which will provide a space for education and reflection to visitors for generations to come.
Cllr Caroline Woodley, Cabinet Member for Families, Early Years, Parks and Play
We were delighted to join the Mayor and team with other partners to mark the moment that these historic works began.

This restoration will bring new community spaces, boost biodiversity, restore the chapel and improve access.

The Trust’s programme of events, tours, activities and community volunteering is continuing throughout the works. Follow us on social media or website to find out more.
Tom Walker, Chair, Abney Park Trust
I am delighted we have reached this milestone in the revitalisation of Abney Park Cemetery. It’s a testament to years of work by Historic England and partners, laying the groundwork for the wider restoration project and this hugely appreciated Lottery support.

The repairs to the Anglican Chapel builds on earlier work funded by Historic England which, along with other improvements across the Cemetery, will provide considerable benefits and improved facilities. The project will also help volunteers and partners better manage vegetation to reveal monuments and allow for their future conservation and restoration. In all, it represents a major step towards removing the cemetery and chapel from the Heritage at Risk Register and I can’t wait to see changes starting to happen.
Christopher Laine, Landscape Architect at Historic England
We are delighted to support Abney Park, one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries in London, in fulfilling its ambitions to improve facilities and open up access to a wider audience.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project will create new community spaces, boost biodiversity, restore the historic chapel while implementing an exciting programme of community activities, events and volunteering.
Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Abney Park, which covers 12.5 hectares between Stoke Newington Church Street and Stoke Newington High Street, is one of Hackney’s 58 green spaces. Listed as a Grade II park on Historic England’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest, it is one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries in London. Both Abney Park Cemetery and the Grade II listed Anglican Chapel have been on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register since 1998.

For information on grave searches, talks, tours and events at the park, please contact the Abney Park Trust, a charitable volunteer-led organisation that helps to maintain and increase interest in the park: https://abneypark.org/abney-park-trust 

For more information about the restoration project, visit: https://hackney.gov.uk/abney-park

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund 

Main image: Groundbreaking at the Chapel (Credit Wayne Crichlow and Hackney Council) - Selina Papa (NLHF), Andrew Williams (Quinn), Rob Davies (Quinn), Lorraine Tillett (Abney Park User Group), Tom Walker (Abney Park Trust), Mike Kaner (Architect), Bart Smith (Architect), Mayor Glanville, Chris Laine (Historic England), Nick Toner (Abney Park Trust)

Cllr Susan Fajana Thomas, Zach Young (Abney Park Trust), Cllr Caroline Woodley and Sam Parry (Parks Development Manager)