Abney Park

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Things to do


Date of travel

October, 2020

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It was three years since I’d visited and reviewed “Abney Park”:https://abneypark.org/ – one of London’s Magnificent Seven Cemeteries. My previous “visit”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/attraction/175691-review-abney-park was with friends when we’d enjoyed a Sunday afternoon guided tour in August. This time, I was exploring independently with my partner, which gave us a little more time to wander off the well-marked paths.

Visiting in October also had the benefit of colourful trees and leaves as the park is also a local nature reserve. Underfoot leaves abounded and there were splashes of autumn colour. Although the cemetery looks as though it has been reclaimed by nature, with ivy abounding and fallen branches providing wildlife habitats, we could imagine the effort the volunteers of Abney Park Trust put into maintaining it.

As well as finding some of the graves I’d seen last time, including Frank Bostock’s lion and the memorial to the Salvationist William Booth, we spotted many other memorials I’d not noticed before.

Whilst many of the graves date back to 1840 when the cemetery was opened, there were more recent memorials. Among the lichen covered headstones was a simple wooden bench inscribed “Mally Powell – Elvis Put His Hand On My Shoulder”, whilst Eric Walrond author of Tropic Death, who died in 1966, was commemorated by a simple stone. Another Eric, Eric the Punk said to be “Stokey’s Finest Dogwalker” had a similar simple stone erected after his death in 2016.

A large memorial had been erected by the Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington to the memory of all those who lost their lives through enemy action during the second World War. Under the words “Coronation Avenue – 13 October 1940” were a list of 80+ names. Research later told us that Coronation Avenue was a block of social housing hit by a parachute mine, causing the building to collapse into the communal shelter beneath. This led to a huge loss of life – one of the biggest civilian tragedies during WWII. An online event to commemorate the 80th anniversary had taken place the day before our visit, but two simple bouquets were laid on the stone which had been recently “restored”:https://abneypark.org/news/2020/9/15/abney-park-trust-restores-war-memorial-ahead-of-the-ww2-bombings-80th-anniversary for the event.

The cemetery is popular with dog walkers and we were fascinated and amused by a ‘doggy day care’ guy with several of his off the leash, all trying to make friends with a young cockapoo.

Despite being a place of sadness, this is a beautiful and natural memorial to those buried there and we’d like to return again, perhaps at a different time of year.

Helen Jackson

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