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Hopes for a summer opening for Abney Park’s new cafe

Work at Abney Park is progressing at pace with a new café and community workshops expected to open this summer.

Businesses and artisans are being offered the opportunity to rent space in the new buildings, which are being constructed just inside the park boundary near the High St entrance.

At the Church St entrance, a new ramp has been constructed in place of the steps, providing access for people in wheelchairs and those with pushchairs. The temporary railing here will be replaced before the end of the project.

The new ramp at the Church St entrance of Abney Park (with temporary railings). Picture courtesy of Abney Park Trust

Tom Walker, Chair of the Abney Park Trust, said: “2023 will see the completion of the National Lottery Heritage Fund programme of restoration works. The Church Street entrance will have been completely remodelled and be fully accessible to all; the chapel will be a venue for events; and there will be new community facilities and a cafe at the High Street entrance. There are no precise timings yet but work progresses on site with visible progress each week. Most regular visitors will know that both the High Street and Church Street entrances are open.”

Though exact timings haven’t been confirmed, the café and community spaces are being advertised as available from May.

An artist's impression of the cafe and community space at Abney Park - photo credit: Kaner Olette Architects

The cafe near the High St entrance will have a biodiverse roof, a shop, toilets and community space and the workshops will be suitable for craftspeople. This community space will be clearly separate from the cemetery’s main burial areas.

Architect Mike Kaner, is leading the project. His firm also designed the café at Woodberry Wetlands. Describing the work at Abney Park, he said: “People can come in and use the facilities in this space without having problems with the cultural elements of going into burial spaces.” Access to the main cemetery will be via an inner gate.

Picture of one of the new stained glass windows at Abney Park Chapel. Photo courtesy of Hackney Council.

The £5 million project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the National Lottery Community Fund and Hackney Council, will also improve paths and lighting in Abney Park and restore the chapel so it’s fit to host events. New stained-glass windows, designed by local schoolchildren and made by artist Piotr Frac have been installed in the chapel.

Once restored, the chapel, which first opened in 1840, will have a new stairway connecting to a mezzanine floor and there’ll be seating. The raw brickwork will remain but will be heated, watertight and fit for events such as weddings and concerts. It will be bordered by a wildflower meadow.

It’s hoped the new cafe, community spaces and restored chapel will help to open the park up to more people and generate an income towards its upkeep.

To find out more about taking on the lease of the café or workshops, visit:

About Abney Park

Abney Park was built as one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries. Spanning 12.5 hectares, It’s the resting place of around 200,000 people.

It’s designated a Local Nature Reserve and is home to more than 100 species of trees, 50 species of bees and fabulous bats, birds, insects and very rare fungi.

Among the remarkable people buried here are Salvation Army founder William Booth, Harry Cox who pioneered the X-ray machine and legendary firefighter James Braidwood.

A new headstone was recently erected here for 19th-century balloonist Margaret Graham, the first British woman to fly solo.

Designed by William Hosking, Abney Park Chapel, which was purely as a place for funerals – not for worship, is the oldest surviving non-denominational chapel in Europe.


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