Abney Park Chapel will be brought back into use thanks to £4.4m National Lottery funding
- Credit: Hackney Council
Abney Park’s 19th century Gothic mortuary, where radicals, anti-slavery campaigners and dissenters are buried, will be brought back into use thanks to £4.4m in grants.
Hackney Council secured planning permission for the development in August, and the funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund will make it possible to carry out.
The council will contribute an additional £710,000, for the works which will also see a new cafe and classroom at the park's main entrance in Stoke Newington High Street, and a new accessible entrance in Church Street, which it is hoped will encourage more visitors to the park.
Abney Park chapel, is one of London's "magnificent seven" cemeteries, and was gutted by fire and vandalism in the 1980s and fell into disrepair.
In August 2017 it was given a new roof and the hoarding, which had covered the building for four years, was taken down.
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Now the next set of work will restore its interior, with a new floor, toilets, electricity, lighting and seating at balcony level.
Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, said: "We're thrilled to have been awarded this funding to protect and improve Abney Park Cemetery, which has a special place in the hearts of people in Hackney.
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"Radicals, anti-slavery campaigners and dissenters all form part of its incredible history, which the new cafe, classroom and restored chapel will help to open up to more people and generate income towards the ongoing improvement of the park."
Abney Park Chapel, which was listed on Historic England's "at risk register" for 25 years, was designed by William Hosking and is the oldest surviving non-denominational chapel in Europe.
It was completed in 1842 and functioned purely as a chapel for funerals - not a place of worship. The graveyard has featured in numerous music videos, most notably Amy Winehouse's Back to Black.