In news that makes my heart swell, the lovely people over at Abney Park cemetery have just received news that they’re a step closer to being awarded £5 million in lottery funding.
£315,000 has already been awarded so plans can be further developed.
According to the press release:
“The bid was submitted by the Council and its partners the Abney Park Trust and Abney Park User Group.
Abney Park Trust has been closely involved in developing the proposals, working in partnership with the Council, Abney Park User Group, Local Councillors and specialists, including Historic England and nature experts.
The project proposals include work to restore the Grade II listed lodge buildings, new workspaces for stone carving, woodworking and creative workshops, along with improved educational facilities.
The Grade II listed chapel will also see further restoration to enable wider use for community, music, theatre and creative events to encourage further involvement and help sustain the park in the future.
After decades of decay, the building was stabilised last year, jointly funded by the Council and Historic England. The Trust has since invested in modular staging, seating and lighting to enable this charismatic space to be used for a variety of events already.
Shelagh Taylor, Chair of the Trust says “This is absolutely fantastic news. The Trust is working hard to support the on-going work through outreach and education. We are also fundraising through theatre and events to continue to invest in the site. Plans for this exciting development will maintain the unique character of Abney Park and enhance the space for future users.
That investment also includes recently completed work to restore two Grade II listed monuments that were at risk and on-going fundraising campaign to restore Dr Isaac Watts’ monument and replace a stolen hand – this prolific hymn writer, poet and wit lived in a house on the site for 36 years before it became a cemetery.”
This is bloody wonderful news. I went to an event earlier in the year featuring Romany Reagan, whose audio tours are nothing short of spellbinding. It just goes to show how attitudes to historic burial grounds are changing – I, Sam and Christina have long banged on about how cemeteries are museums of people full of art, history and culture. With similar bids being approved in Brompton as well as planned projects in West Norwood and Willesden Jewish cemetery, it’s pleasing to see how things have changed since this blog was founded in May 2013.
Cemetery Club is in talks with Abney Park for staging a tour around this former arboretum-cum-place of rest, so stay tuned for our guiding schedule for 2018 which will be up shortly. Cemeteries aren’t spooky and its nice to see them being recognised for the benefits they can offer to a community.