:: Article

This is no Dérive

 By Bridget Penney.

The gates to Abney Park Cemetery on Stoke Newington Road designed by B. who brought back the sarcophagus of [] which lies in the basement of Sir John Soane’s house in Lincoln Inn Fields. Its Alabaster has darkened to the colour of honey in the London air. 

The gates on Stoke Newington Road . On one side a dental surgery. A public toilet is part of the gates on the right, further up a nursery. Children going past with their parents. Lorries heading up S.N. Rd towards Tottenham.

A Roman road, Watling Street, That’s why it’s so straight.

Detailed background of the view from the gates of Abney Park – traffic island, the egg stores, junction of Cazenove Road.

‘Why this is Egypt. I have lived here for many years.’

Manor Road, stretching up from S.N. Rd. A big house on the south side, which backs onto the cemetery. As I open the front door with a Yale key a cat runs out between my legs. Cats see ghosts too.

Going back to Egypt, 16th June 2011. With a vague idea of restaging my original shots I have brought the snaps along, but the rain and my laziness mean they stay firmly in my bag. The house on Manor Road looks so different that if I hadn’t known the number there’s no way I’d have found it. Once boarded and whited out behind a profusion of buddleia, fuchsia, dandelions and Michelmas daisies it has been painted and repointed and now stands in a tidy little yard. The parade of shops containing the ‘Egg Stores’ accords roughly with my memory, but the newsagent on the corner of Cazenove Road opposite Abney Park’s main gates has shed its triple ‘Mars’ banner in favour of ‘Newsfine’ and on a separate board underneath is a ‘To Let’ sign. Its windows are closely shuttered and a couple of police vans are parked directly outside.

It strikes me that the cars passing up and down Ermine, not Watling Street, are less boxy and more snub-nosed than they were in 1995, but then much of the street furniture has also changed and there are different sets of markings on the roads. The public toilet in the lodge on the right hand side of the gates has been replaced by a stone-carving workshop, run by the cemetery trust.

The initials MLKP are visible, though attempts have been made to obliterate them, on the four white Portland stone pylons of the main entrance in both sets of my photos. It looks like they’ve been scrubbed out and retagged more than a few times in the sixteen years in between. MLKP stands for Marksist-Leninist Komünist Partisi; formed out of earlier groupings in 1994 (the year before I took the first lot of photos) and proscribed in Turkey in 2007. I think, but I’m not sure, that members of this group were among those I saw holding banners around the fountain in Trafalgar Square on MayDay 2011. Maintaining the Hoxhaist line, the firmly anti- revisionist MLKP and its predecessors have had to disassociate themselves in turn from the USSR, China, finally even Albania. ‘MLCP’s programme of anti-imperialist democratic revolution is based on the Soviet Union of Workers’-Labourers’ Republics, the voluntary, free and equal unity of the peoples of Turkey and Northern Kurdistan.’i The complexities and contradictions of advancing the struggle of the international proletariat alongside what might be seen as nationalist pressures for the formation of a self-determining Kurdish state emerge from pages of theoretical writing. Returning to the website in December 2014, the speed at which events in the Middle East have moved in recent months is shown by the following extract from a post of 30/09/14 ‘Our Party, MLCP is also taking part in the Rojava Revolution and fights with its women and men warriors.’ There seems to be a wide spectrum of opinion on the web about what exactly it is the Rojava Revolution represents. However the appalling external pressures to which the region is currently subjected have led to the MLKP issuing a joint declaration with other organisations, some of which it might have formerly have regarded as revisionist. As of 21/11/14 ‘We call on all antifascist, antiimperialist, progressive, revolutionary and communist organizations, parties and individual persons to support the defense of Kobanê and Rojava and to support the liberation struggle of the peoples in the Middle East!’

Unsurprisingly, given Flickr has only existed since 2004, the earliest picture of the Abney Park gates I find there dates from 2005. All show the initials repainted or painted over. Additional graffiti appear in the photo taken by Zigs1on April 11, 2007 – ‘TCK’, I think, beneath the obscured ‘L’ on the pylon second from the left. This picture leads me to a Flickr group called Egypt in Londoniiwhich contains some lovely stuff: alongside the anticipated shots from the British Museum are striking pictures of cinemas and other buildings with Egyptian-derived designs. My favourites are a former factory in Camden Town with the most beautiful pair of Bast cats flanking its entrance and a sphinx with red eyes and no nose in Crystal Palace Park.

“The Egyptians…”

Egypt Gallery in the British Museum. The lions at the front (one or both with broken paw). The lion in Abney Park (Frank Bosworth’s Memorial) standing at that junction with the paths stretching away.

I used to walk past and admire the gates having no idea that their Egyptian style was anything other than an aesthetic choice, but have come to realise that the nonconformist founders of Abney Park had particular reasons for their intelligent act of cultural appropriation. They followed the example of the recently founded garden cemetery Mount Auburn in Massachusetts and picked the Egyptian style as signaling awe, solemnity and a kind of spirituality which was not associated with any current, potentially divisive, religious practice. Joseph Bonomi the younger, who co-designed the gates with William Hosking, was familiar as a name from the Soane Museum where I had gazed at Seti’s empty, oddly translucent sarcophagus with its image of the sky goddess Nut as a woman ready to receive the body of the king. The inside of the broken cover shows Nut as she’s more usually represented, balancing on the tips of her fingers and toes at the cardinal points of the compass, with her star-filled body arching over the earth. The memory dovetails into a thrilling narrative of early nineteenth century antiquarianism – Belzoni’s excavation of Seti’s tomb and its exhibition at the Egyptian Hall on Piccadilly in 1821 at which he appeared dressed as a mummy – until I realise, to my intense embarrassment, that I’ve got Bonomi and Belzoni muddled up.

There are cartouches high up on the lodges. I couldn’t have picked them out from the street, but zooming in on my screen the hieroglyphs are there, apparently translating as ‘The Gates of the Abode of the Mortal Part of Man’. In between each pair, and much more prominent, is a symbol of protection: the solar disk flanked by spitting cobras and outstretched wings that represent ancient patron goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt. The capitals of the pylons are carved with lotus flowers and what I assume to be buds. The ancient Egyptian lotus was actually a water lily, Nymphaea lotus, which has white, long-stemmed flowers and was introduced into western cultivation by Loddiges’ nursery of Hackney in 1802. One source describes them as petals or sepals; another as palm leaves, but the palmette as a decorative form seems to have been derived from lotus or papyrus flowers in the first place, and is associated with both life and death. When used near the base of columns it might represent the emerging of the first fertile mound from a primal, chaotic swamp.

Lush growth. The park feels very different from my visit in 1995. Then it was just run down, scrungy and neglected, now the overgrowth is unapologetically luxuriant. The wet summer after a dry hot spring means that everything has been playing catch-up. ‘The present management as a nature reserve is in marked contrast with the highly ornamental, Gardenesque style of the mid-19th-century cemetery, where the only woodland planting was in the perimeter belts.’iii

In February 1839 the Abney Park Cemetery Company announced in its prospectus that ‘The object of this Company, is the establishment of a General Cemetery for the City of London, and its eastern and north-eastern suburbs, which shall be open to all classes of the community, and to all denominations of Christians, without restraint in forms.’ None of the five garden cemeteries which had opened around London in the 1830s had made provision for ‘common graves’, which was all a substantial proportion of the population could afford, so in this Abney Park was fairly radical, though the areas set aside for common graves were still quite small. An even more distinctive feature – and the keystone of the whole project – was the unconsecrated status of the whole site. ‘There is, therfore, no separating line in this cemetery between the parts appropriated to members of the Church of England and to Dissenters.’

In purchasing the thirty acres of the consolidated Abney and Fleetwood estates from James William Freshfield in January 1839, the nine directors of the Abney Park Cemetery Company were also buying the former home of Isaac Watts and Lady Mary Abney and grounds that had once belonged to General Charles Fleetwood (second husband of Bridget Cromwell, the Protector’s eldest daughter, also Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1662-5) ‘with its deep-rooted spiritual assets’.iv From the outset Dr Watts fulfilled the double role of genius loci and patron saint. Looking at his poems again, I have to admit that Watts is a better writer than I had given him credit for. The clarity of his language and emphasis on personal feeling in the hymns seems to prefigure the preoccupations of Wordsworth and Coleridge in Lyrical Ballads while the alienating vividness of his metaphors finds echoes in Blake and Dickinson. However it was his derivation of a hymn metre from common, or English, metre – piggybacking on a tradition of singing psalms to ballad tunes that goes back to Sternhold and Hopkins’ first English psalter in the mid sixteenth century – that proved most, possibly because subconsciously, influential on later poets experimenting with new forms. Watts was born in Southampton in 1674 and attended the Dissenting Academy in Stoke Newington from 1690. He first stayed in Fleetwood House in 1696 as tutor to Fleetwood’s grandson and was closely involved, through his friendship with Thomas Gunston (whose sister Lady Mary Abney inherited the estate after his early death) with the planning of the building which eventually came to be referred to as Abney House and the linking of the design of its grounds to Fleetwood’s. He lived there from 1734 until his death in 1748.

Abney Park was always intended to be to be a beautiful and educational park as well as a place of burial; ‘…there are cedars of Lebanon in it, wide lawns, and beautiful flowers.’v George Loddiges, in 1840 the joint owner with his brother William of what the garden theorist John Claudius Loudon called ‘The Hackney Botanic Nursery Garden’, was responsible for its designing and planting. His brief seems to have been to preserve the remaining historic features of the parkland that had formerly belonged to Abney and Fleetwood Houses and which were so important for the narrative the directors of the Abney Park Cemetery Company, and particularly its Secretary & Registrar George Collison, in his book Cemetery Interment, (1840) wished to establish.

Key among these were the Great and Little Elm Walks, the latter of which Lady Mary Abney and Isaac Watts certainly could have been involved in planning, and the Yew Walk ‘There is, also, a fine grove of ancient Yew-trees upon the property, which adds much to the picturesque effect, and is peculiarly characteristic of the sacred purposes to which the estate is devoted’.vi Various exotic plantings including a tulip tree, American larch and the massive Cedar of Lebanon aligned with the centre of the garden front of Fleetwood House are also mentioned. Collison describes all these as having been planted by ‘the hand of Fleetwood’. In the case of the cedar, this is a possibility and the Abney Park Cemetery Trust website seems happy to follow this tradition. Early cedar plantings are recorded in Chelsea Physic Garden about 1683, seven years before Fleetwood’s death.vii

However in suggesting that the tulip tree and American larch were brought back from the New World by Fleetwood in the course of his ‘various voyages during the uncertain times in which he was a conspicuous actor’viii Collison is on shakier ground. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Fleetwood traveled to America. But the image of him, bringing back trees from the New World, might be thought to prefigure Collison’s own visit to Mount Auburn cemetery in Massachusetts to bring back ideas which would directly model the development of Abney Park; and its deployment in Cemetery Interment gives a good impression of the peculiar blend of practical and intensely romantic tones which characterises large sections of the book. In A Guide to Abney Park (1983) Paul Joyce suggests that various exotic trees were in fact planted by George Perrott, who lived in Fleetwood House from 1763 to 1775 and carried out extensive improvements to the house and grounds – but Perrott is of no interest to Collison and therefore doesn’t feature in his narrative.

George Loddiges further embellished the grounds using the vast stock of plants at his disposal. ‘In the Abney Park Cemetery, a named arboretum has been planted by Messrs Loddiges, which contained every hardy tree and shrub, varieties as well as species, that was in their collection a year ago.’ix 2,500 species of trees and shrubs, arranged alphabetically by genus, from Abies (the spruce firs) to Zanthoxylum (American toothache tree) were planted around the cemetery’s perimeter – an unwound clone of the spiral arboretum already existing at the Hackney Botanic Nursery Garden a mile and a half away in Mare Street. There was also a three acre rosarium containing 1,029 rose varieties and hybrids near the chapel, and a Pinetum with ‘young choice specimens’ of thirty species ‘distributed over about five acres of the estate’.x

A Victorian tree map of the cemetery shows the arboretum as a solid border and quietly demonstrates its secondary function of dividing off the areas for the common graves next to the perimeter walls from the main landscape. Individual specimen trees are marked with triangles for conifers, circles for broadleaf. As far as I’m aware, no more detailed map of the planting scheme survives. Fortunately Collison, in his role as chronicler and promoter of the new project, includes complete lists of all the species and varieties in Cemetery Interment.

In 1995 I had no idea about the history of Abney Park. Vague feelings aroused by the Egyptian-style gates, which after a hundred and seventy years still look alien among the shops and Georgian houses leading up to Stamford Hill, led me, in pursuit of a commission, to wander through the cemetery one day trying to see everything within their imagined context. Many of the memorials already leaned at dramatic angles, pushed by tree growth or their own topheaviness; others had fallen apart into random carved lumps. Sometimes there was a flicker of movement beside the path but if I ever turned round it was only to glimpse someone ducking down again. Bunches of ribbons hanging from trees were the perfect secret code; in full view of everyone passing yet intelligible only to those initiated into their mysteries.

There are ribbons of different colours tied to the trees and bushes. They are put here as markers indicative of various sexual preferences, but I prefer to think of them as tokens offered by the votaries of Isis…

2 people are watching from behind a tree. There faces seem to take on animal characterises. At a rustling sound I turn and flee.

Straight up towards the mortuary chapel, a blackened shell. 

Past a girl with a bicycle who has paused on a bench to eat a sandwich. The lady of the hidden house. My hands grasp the rusty iron bars of the mortuary gates…


Looking down one of the original axial vistas from the ruin of mortuary chapel past the cross of sacrifice war memorial crowning the catacombs immediately before the cenotaph of Isaac Watts, it was easy to ruminate about monuments which had been left to decay. Frank Bostock’s weather spotted lion was another valuable touchstone; I happily identified it with the pink granite lions that flank the entrance to the Egyptian gallery in the British Museum and lingered by it for quite some time. The granite Booth shields, heroically, but maybe not inappropriately, oversized given that surviving footage of General William Booth’s funeral in 1912 looks like the nearest thing to a state funeral Abney Park ever saw, were well-maintained.

“But in Egypt there is no iron” Gates disappear.

“No Glass.”

Stoke Newington Church Street looking west from cemetery gates. Houses and shops with no glass in the windows.

‘Forget the tombs of Kings…’ (His back with the Bramwell Booth Tombs behind)

“It is the essence of things which counts a just balance

Book of the Dead weighing scene

In my imagination…

That is all there is.”

Thinks of a face of huge statue in British Museum Egyptian room

“It’s strange…”

Outside the library, further along Church St

“The secret is contained”

Walking into the library and up the ramp “In ceremonial trappings…” 

Looking right at the case which houses the mayoral garments and to its right at the plaque which commemorates Poe

The pyramids …

Outside the library looking left towards St Mary’s (Gilbert Scott) church

“When all it takes…”

Walking into Clissold Park

“Is an ability to perceive things which are already here…

and the mystery 

is that they don’t do so.”

The bridge over the river in Clissold Park. Looking down at the black swans and ducks. Thinking of the Nile, clumps of bulrushes, Crested Ibis.



Careful to maintain my slightly trancelike state, I walked along Stoke Newington Church Street and into the library to photograph the scarlet mayoral robes on display and the plaque commemorating Poe, tentatively recruited via the grotesque and arabesque, but slotting neatly into place once H.D.’s poem ‘Egypt; to E.A. Poe’ was brought to my attention. Then into Clissold Park to gaze along the New River and see it as the Nile; not so hard if the template, a picture of a shadouf drawn early in primary school overlaid by Peter Ustinov’s performance as Hercule Poirot, is already so unreal. There were birds, just far enough away where the river bent beneath some trees to be ibises rather than Canada geese.

The memory of this faux-Egyptian drift nagged me occasionally and I was reminded of it again when Rich Cutler showed me the meticulously spooky photographs he’d taken of Abney Chapel.xi From the Egyptian gates I had taken a vague exotic, mysterious impression. He, looking at the chapel, saw a magnificently gothic ruin. What exactly were we responding to; or were we just finding the stuff we’d decided on in advance? Curious about what other people had made of Abney Park, I started looking online at blogs and review sites. A spectrum of impressions emerged. Quite a lot depended on the sex of the reviewer and their purpose in visiting Abney Park. Women tended to advise caution but that seemed more because of the enclosed and overgrown nature of the place than direct experience of hassle; it was the men who mentioned being cruised. Dogwalkers of both sexes seemed to enjoy a rather more uncomplicated time.

I found the writing on the review sites for potential visitors like Yelp and TripAdvisor particularly interesting. The requirement to encapsulate the experience of visiting Abney Park into a very few words makes references to books and films a useful form of shorthand. Yet the inconsistency of the vocabulary in which the reviews are written conveys a richer and more playful experience than these references might suggest. Rather to my relief, no one else admitted to an Egyptian wander.

‘This is an absolutely stunning place for an English afternoon stroll, reminiscent of scenes from Wuthering Heights or Frankenstein, morbid yet refreshing and guaranteed to put some colour in your cheeks and a spring in your step (especially if you happen to meet a friend in the bushes).’ Katy I. 27/12/2008

‘This place is one of the most awesome things ever. Right in the middle there is a beautiful falling down church and all the tombstones around it are crammed together and crumbling down. It really was just like the scene out of Great Expectations in the graveyard!’ Lizzie S. 23/06/2009

‘Whenever I’m channeling my inner teen goth or just in need of a picnic spot, Abney Cemetary

comes up trumps….Abney’s beautifully overgrown and full of enormous, hyperbolic monuments like the joint graves of the Salvation Army founders – so much for anti-materialism, eh? Right in the centre, there are the ruins of a chapel and a clearing that makes the perfect spot for a sunbathe on a summer’s day.’ Sarahdrinkwater 20/01/2011xii

‘the cemetery is in (fairly) central London and has been left to grow wild, it’s quite surreal taking a walk there, and then re-appearing on a busy London street, bit like Michael Cain (sic) in the Ipcress Files.’ Lucie Robinson 5/01/2012 xiii

‘The cemetery is a massive area in Stoke Newington that has the feel of an Indiana Jones film.’ Mark H. 16/08/2014xiv

There have been four books published about Abney Park. George Collison’s Cemetery Interment was followed by Thomas Burgess Barker’s Abney Park Cemetery: A Complete Descriptive Guide to Every Part Of This Beautiful Depository of The Dead (1869) and James Branwhite French’s Walks in Abney Park With Life-Photographs of Ministers and other Public Men whose names are found there (1883). More recently, Paul Joyce’s A Guide to Abney Park Cemetery (1983, 2nd ed 1994) provides a thorough history of the site and descriptions of the most interesting monuments.

Collison’s can’t really be described as a guidebook: writing about something which was only in the process of coming to exist he is endeavouring to recruit readers into his vision by appealing in turn to their rational, modernizing, romantic and spiritual preoccupations. Barker, one of the cemetery’s chaplains, addresses his readership as if guiding them round the site in person. ‘We are now in the city of the Dead. We’ll pause a while to note its charms. What a comfort if seats were placed for those broken-hearted mourners who crave companionship with sacred mounds.’xv Barker’s alternately grim and saccharine moralising is wearisome: the best bits of his book give insight into the behaviour of other visitors. His remark ‘An inappropriate taste sometimes induces persons to chose cemetery shadows for their strolls’xvi made me laugh out loud and wonder what exactly was he getting at? He describes ‘the funeral cards, the shells and flowers’ left by mourners on the common graves, where permanent memorials could not be erected, as ‘expressive’.xvii At the back of his book, pages of advertisements directed at the recently bereaved offer a stark reminder that death and burial was a highly commercialised, expensive business.

French’s book opens with a reminiscence of his childhood visit to Abney House to see Isaac Watts’ former home in the early days of the cemetery’s operation. He describes Abney Park as ‘a sort of historical memory of the leading London congregationalists of the century. It is with a view of evoking these memories, and not at all for indulging in lugubrious “meditations among the tombs” that I propose to my readers that we take a few walks together in Abney Park.’xviii His ‘life-photographs’ are brief biographies. ‘Though our “walks” are in the cemetery, our minds will be away in the great city where, for the most part, the men whose monuments we look upon lived and laboured, and were centres of religious association and powers of spiritual influence. It will be, I hope, in each case a living memory that is awakened out of each dead tomb’.xix

Of course it goes without saying that even if a place has as strong a narrative, as many guidebooks and is as widely reviewed online as Abney Park it’s still possible to visit without looking it up beforehand. Seeing comments, photos and videos that people had posted on various sites I became aware that many had their own narratives about Abney Park which had nothing whatsoever to do with any of this. In one of the many films I watched on YouTube, a couple were filming themselves looking for the grave of a family member in 2011, though, frustratingly, background noise of sirens and added Johnny Cash soundtrack meant it was hard to make out much of their conversation.xx Ginann’s albums on Flickr meticulously document the flora and fauna encountered in the park over many years; looking at these photos you would hardly realise they were taken in a former cemetery.xxi For fans of steampunk, ‘Abney Park’ is more likely to bring to mind the Seattle-based band who took their name from the cemetery. Cubicle 7 released ‘Abney Park’s Airship Pirates’, an RPG based on the band’s elaborate backstory, in August 2011. This game is set in an alternate post-apocalyptic world of 2150, where ‘In the walled, fog-shrouded cities, people huddle in forced Victorian squalor, lorded over by the upper classes. The Emperor’s clockwork policemen patrol the streets and the ultimate threat of the Change Cage hangs over those who would rebel…’xxii

16th June 2011. A man is taking photographs by Abney Chapel. Glimpsing him through the wide, railed arches of the porte-cochere where the hearses would have once pulled up, I step back out of his line of sight. We move awkwardly round the building. The scrubby grass offers no clues to where the ‘clumps’ of American plants, carefully introduced to honour Mount Auburn, might have been.

Beyond the remains of the lawn, regenerating trees close in and all the different shades of green seem like a wall. Wild roses bloom elsewhere in the park but nothing is left of the three acre rosarium that once grew here. At least the chapel’s four ‘botanical rose windows’ – ten- pointed for the five petals and five sepals of the true wild rose form – remain, though all are damaged and the one on the south side is braced with iron bolts. The form of these windows is highly unusual; Beverley Minster, which Collison acknowledged as an inspiration, has the only other examples in the UK.

Searching for further signs of human intervention, I find small white handprints and a boy with bleeding eyes on the north side of the chapel, ‘Doktor’ scrawled on the back of a cross, and ‘QI PANDA/CAR’ written and drawn in marker pen opposite a list of names on a log nearby. The video for ‘Back to Black’ was shot here; perhaps they came looking for the spot where Amy buried her heart.xxiii I wish I had had the courage to take a picture of the ribbons, fading to beige on the branches, when I came before. There were always too many variables to tell how long they’d been up. If this is still a cruising hotspot my approach is going to send anyone looking for action melting back into the overgrowth.

While most monuments have been left alone beneath the encroaching superstructure of greenery, the Bostock lion has been restored to such a pristine state that for a moment I wonder if it has actually been replaced. Someone has left buttercups between his crossed front paws. The lion’s eyes are closed, which makes sense, signaling sleep or death, but formerly the lids, patched with grime or growth, seemed to be looking at something.

Increasingly heavy rain makes the library seem like a good idea. The mayoral robes are no longer on display but a table of withdrawn stock is set out for for sale in the entrance hall. There is no good reason for me to pick up Peeps at Many Lands; Ancient Egypt by James Baikie, published in 1912, but, written for pre-teens, it is illlustrated with photographs and some very attractive colour pictures by Constance N. Baikie, and I am amused enough by the coincidence with my purpose today to shell out 50p. Baikie, a minister in the Church of Scotland, wrote several books on Egyptology without ever visiting Egypt. Perhaps he couldn’t afford it, thought it too dangerous, or feared the present reality would distract him. Flicking through his text on the way home should further contaminate whatever it was I didn’t have a clue I was doing.

‘Within the great boundary wall lie pleasant gardens, gay with all sorts of flowers, and an artificial lake shows its gleaming water here and there through the trees and shrubs.’xxiv

‘Now we stand in front of the gate. Its two leaves are made of cedar-wood brought from Lebanon; but you cannot see the wood at all, for it is overlaid with plates of silver chased with beautiful designs. Passing through the gateway, we find ourselves in a broad open court. All round it runs a kind of cloister, whose roof is supported upon tall pillars, their capitals carved to represent the curving leaves of the palm-tree.’xxv

‘The walls and pillars of each chamber are wonderfully carved and painted. The pillars show pictures of the King making offerings to the gods, or being welcomed by them, but the pictures on the walls are very strange and weird. They represent the voyage of the sun through the realms of the under-world, and all the dangers and difficulties which the soul of the dead man has to encounter as he accompanies the sun-bark on its journey.’xxvi

‘People come from all parts of the world to see even the ruins of these buildings, and they are altogether the most astonishing buildings in the world; but they are now only the skeletons of what the temples once were, and scarcely give you any more idea of their former glory and beauty than a human skeleton does of the beauty of a living man or woman.’xxvii

Note: the text in italics above comprise ‘Egypt’; a proposal for a comic strip I wrote and took a series of photographs for in 1995. It was never completed.


i  [retrieved 13/12/14]
ii  [retrieved 27/09/17]
iii English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest (1998, ed. 2009)
iv Joyce, Paul: A Guide to Abney Park Cemetery, 1983, 2nd ed 1994, p37
v Bartlett, David W.: London by Day and Night, 1852, p245
vi Collison, George: Cemetery Interment, 1840, p206
vii Fitter, R.S.R.: London’s Natural History, 1945, p96
viii Collison, p207
ix Loudon, J.C.: ‘Abney Park Cemetery’, The Gardener’s Magazine, vol 19, 1843
x Collison, p361
xi  [retrieved 26/09/17]
xii  [retrieved 26/09/17]
xiii  [retrieved 26/09/17]
xiv  [retrieved 26/09/17]
xv Barker,Thomas Burgess: Abney Park Cemetery: A Complete Descriptive Guide to Every Part Of This Beautiful Depository of The Dead, 1869, p25
xvi Barker, p24
xvii Barker, p72
xviii French, James Branwhite: Walks in Abney Park With Life-Photographs of Ministers and other Public Men whose names are found there, 1883, p8
xix French, p28
xx  [retrieved 26/09/17]
xxi  [retrieved 27/09/17]
xxii  [retrieved 12/12/14]
xxiii  [retrieved 27/09/17]
xxiv Baikie, James: Peeps at Many Lands: Ancient Egypt, 1912, p19
xxv Baikie, p75
xxvi Baikie, p80
xxvii Baikie, p73



Bridget Penney is the author of Index (2008), due to be reprinted by Book Works later this year. Other texts about Abney Park have appeared in 3:AM, Snow 3, and Field Report 2014.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, March 30th, 2018.