Historic Hackney grave listed

The grave of a descendant of one of the key figures in the movement to abolish slavery has been Grade II listed.

Joanna Vassa’s grave in Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington, was previously restored thanks to funding from Hackney Council.

The listing means extra care must be taken over decisions affecting its future and its preservation.

Cllr Nargis Khan, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “Stoke Newington was a key site for the abolitionist and anit-slavery movement. The Grade II listing of Joanna Vassa’s grave acts as a further reminder of our borough’s local link to such an important period of history, and we welcome the further protection this gives.”

Joanna Vassa was the daughter of Olaudah Equiano, who dedicated his life to ending the Transatlantic Slave Trade, along with more famous abolitionists such as William Wilberforce.

Vassa lived from 1795-1857 and her association with Stoke Newington is well documented. She had a home in Tottenham Road, now the site of Our Lady and St Joseph RC School.

She was married to Congregationalist minister Rev Henry Bromley. The couple were both buried in Abney Park Cemetery, but her grave fell into disrepair and was only rediscovered in 2004.

Abney Park Cemetery Trust arranged the restoration, commissioning a local stonemason, with funding from the Council. The restoration was completed in May 2007.

The grave was listed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on UNESCO International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition (23 August).