Stamford Hill’s ‘magical’ Abney Park cemetery is a step closer to a £5 million overhaul after an initial bid for National Lottery funding was successful.
The Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery funds, which divvy out money raised by ticket sales, last week awarded £315,000 to the Abney Park Restoration Project so it can further develop its plans.
The Lottery bid was submitted by Hackney Council in partnership with Abney Park’s Trust and user group.
A second successful application next year would see the project awarded a full grant of almost £5 million to revamp the park and its famous chapel.
The ultimate aim is for the park to play host to concerts, theatre productions and craft workshops, and to create a sustainable future for the site by attracting more volunteers.
Abney Park is one of London’s “Magnificent Seven” Victorian cemeteries, and contains the oldest surviving non-denominational chapel in Europe.
The chapel only reopened to the public last year following extensive repair work.
Commenting on the Lottery award, Chair of Abney Park Trust Shelagh Taylor said: “This is absolutely fantastic news. The Trust is working hard to support the ongoing 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.”
The Trust is currently raising money to restore Dr Isaac Watts’ monument and replace a stolen hand.
Watts was a prolific hymn writer and poet who lived in a house on the site for 36 years before it became a cemetery.
The Town Hall’s parks chief Cllr Feryal Demirci said of the successful bid: “We are delighted to receive this initial support from the National Lottery.
“This project will ensure the park is well maintained with local, sustainable materials, reversing its decline and ensuring future generations can enjoy a magical walk through Hackney’s past.”
The borough’s mayor Philip Glanville even recommended a Valentine’s Day visit for anyone who fancies a “spookier” outing.
For more information, please visit www.abneypark.org