The 175th anniversary of Abney Park Cemetery’s opening is on 20 May this year. That is also the day that Hackney Council will take back the management of the land from the Trust. The Trust will still have a key role in all areas of outreach, education and events but wants to celebrate the anniversary and its 23-year stewardship with a range of entertainment for all tastes and ages over a week of exciting events.
Family Fun Day
Abney’s traditional day for all the community with music, cabaret, food, craft workshops and stalls. Plus a chance to discuss and influence the future of the Trust and Abney Park.
1pm Annie Chipchase from Hackney Community Tree Nursery and winner of the 2014 RE:LEAF award will lead a walk highlighting the wonderful variety of plant life and trees in the cemetery.
2pm The Speaker of Hackney, Councillor Sharon Patrick will visit the Fun Day.
How much do you know about Abney Park? Find out more with a day of guided walks around the cemetery.
10am Upturned torches, shaking hands, beehives, broken columns – why are they on tombs and what do they mean? Abney Park Trust visitor manager John Baldock will explain on a tour of some of the most important and touching graves and listed monuments in the cemetery.
11am Abney was laid out in 1840 by Loddiges with 2,500 types of rose and a unique range of trees covering every letter of the alphabet, from the acer to the Zanthoxylum or Toothache tree. Some still remain so come and discover them and other famous trees with Russell Miller of the Tree Musketeers.
12 noon Have you ever wondered why Abney’s gates are Egyptian? Did you know that the whole site is unconsecrated land? Is Oliver Cromwell really buried here? Alan Gartrell will explain why the cemetery is where it is and why it is so important to to radical, non-conformist Hackney.
1pm Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North since 1983, and member of the Stop the War coalition will revive the traditional Bronterre O’Brien Graveside Address. O’Brien struggled and suffered for universal suffrage and parliamentary reform and was a member of the Stop the War League during the Crimean War.
2pm Simon Cole of Hackney Tours will lead a walk and discuss the radical heritage of the women of Hackney – Feminist (or is it?)
3pm Abney is an important green lung and nature reserve for North East London. Russell Miller will discuss and demonstrate its ecological importance.
Abney in Books
7-9pm. £5 (ticket price includes glass of wine)
Stoke Newington Bookshop, 159 Stoke Newington High Street
Authors inspired by Abney Park discuss the appeal and power of cemeteries from their different viewpoints. Ann Treneman is the Times Parliamentary sketch writer and has written Finding the Plot, a tour of fascinating graves around the UK. Catharine Arnold explores the dark side of London, its crime, asylums and, of course, its dead in Necropolis. John Turpin sets Abney in its context in The Magnificent Seven.
Tickets from the Abney Park Visitors Centre and Stoke Newington Bookshop
Find out more about Abney’s history in its heyday and the stories of its illustrious dead.
10am John Baldock will take a tour around some of Abney’s famous graves. Who was Bostock and why is there a lion on his monument? Why is Dr Watts’ statue in the cemetery? What is Abney’s connection with the Salvation Army?
11am Alan Gartrell leads a walk highlighting the heroes of Abney – from leading antislavery campaigners to men who fought at Trafalgar and Balaklava, as well as suffragettes, medical researchers and brave firefighters and police. Learn all about the Tottenham Outrage of 1909.
12 noon Death Cafe – a chance to get together to discuss death and make the most of our (in)finite lives.
1pm George Leybourne (Champagne Charlie), Albert Chevalier (My Old Dutch) and Nelly Power (for whom The Boy I love is up in the Gallery was written) are all buried in Abney Park Cemetery. The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America introduces the many music hall artistes at rest here.
2pm Half a million mourners, 40 brass bands, the streets filled with people from the City to Abney Park – the various funerals of the Booth family members, founders of the Salvation Army, were the biggest ever seen at Abney Park. Gordon Taylor tells all about them in the Army’s 150th anniversary year.
3pm The Chartists were seen as dangerous revolutionaries in the early 19th century, but now almost all of their political reforms have been adopted and are seen as commonplace. Russell Miller will talk about the history of the Chartists, their trials and their links with Abney Park.
4pm Arthur Machen, late Victorian author and mystic, wrote a powerful and disturbing story, N, about glimpsing the infinite in Stoke Newington. Robert Kingham of renowned London psychogeographers, Minimum Labyrinth, performs this work.
Laidback music and choirs entertain visitors and celebrate Abney’s musical heritage. John Hegley heads the line up, which includes the Elastic Band, Alessandra and the Bluesmice, the Tone Singers and Hacapella.
1.30 pm The Elastic Band
2.30pm Alessandra and the Bluesmice
4pm John Hegley and friend
4.30pm Chance Kellner and Folk Opera
and freeform urban sax where you least expect it.
We hope that this series of events will serve as a joyous celebration and an opportunity for the community to mark the end of the Trust’s lease and the Trust’s move to a new role.
All support on the day or beforehand to plan, steward, fundraise etc, would be greatly appreciated.
We’d also love to hear from you if think you could contribute to any of the events as performer, entertainer, stallholder, caterer etc.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information