Abney Park

Last updated
Abney Park in 2021 Abney Park 3.jpg
Abney Park in 2021

Abney Park is in Stoke Newington, London, England. It is a 13-hectare (32-acre) park dating from just before 1700, named after Lady Mary Abney and associated with Dr Isaac Watts, who laid out an arboretum. In the early 18th century it was accessed via the frontages and gardens of two large mansions: her own manor house (Abney House) and Fleetwood House. Both fronted onto Church Street in what was then a quiet mainly nonconformist (non-Anglican) village. In 1840, the grounds were turned into Abney Park Cemetery, where 200,000 people were buried. Abney Park now serves mainly as a nature reserve.



Abney Park 7.jpg

In the early 18th century, Lady Mary Abney laid out Abney Park after inheriting the Manor of Stoke Newington in 1701 from her brother Thomas Gunston. Initially she and her husband Sir Thomas Abney lived there part-time, also living at his residence in Hertfordshire. She began work on the park in those years.

After her husband's death in 1722, Lady Mary moved to Abney House full-time, becoming the first Lady of the Manor of Stoke Newington in her own right. She was said to be helped in designing the landscaping of the grounds as an English garden by the learned Dr Isaac Watts, who had been a long-term house guest of her and her late husband, and continued to live in her household. The neighbouring Hartopp family of Fleetwood House, who leased the eastern part of the park to Lady Mary, also helped with the park.

Her improvements included planting of the Great Elm Walk and Little Elm Walk, which established shady walkways down to the island heronry of the Hackney Brook at the bottom of the park. Both Wych Elm and English Elm were planted. The Hartopp family had already completed one of the early plantings of a Cedar of Lebanon tree in Great Britain, adjacent to an ornamental pond. This tree survived into the 1920s and is illustrated in many engravings of the period.

Other trees planted at an early date at Abney Park (either in the portion leased by Fleetwood House, or that attached solely to Abney House) included American Larch and Tulip Trees from the New World. The Nonconformists of Stoke Newington had strong connections to colonists in New England.

Abney House

Abney Park was dominated by Abney House which was built in 1700. [1] For some time in the early decades of the 19th century, it was the residence of James William Freshfield and his family.

In its final years, it was adapted for use as a Wesleyan Methodist training college or seminary (c.1838/9–1843). Rev. John Farrar was the governor of the college. He was elected Secretary of the Methodist Conference on fourteen occasions and twice its President. When the Methodists moved into their first purpose-built college at Richmond, south of London in 1843, Farrar was appointed as the Classical Tutor. He worked there until 1857.

After 1843, Abney House was 'recycled' (broken up for sale as building materials) for the building trade of the rapidly expanding metropolis, as was common in the Victorian era.

Fleetwood House

Fleetwood House was built in the 1630s for Sir Edward Hartopp. By marriage the estate passed to Charles Fleetwood, one of Oliver Cromwell's generals, and was named for him. It was later owned by various parties. [2] It served as a meeting place for Dissenters and Nonconformists, for which residents Stoke Newington was known.

In the grounds was a third building, called the Summerhouse. From 1774, it was used as a summer residence by the family of young James Stephen (1758–1832). Although not a Quaker, he became closely involved with the abolitionist cause, which they supported. In 1800, he married Sarah Wilberforce, sister of his friend William, who visited Stoke Newington regularly. Between them, the two men drafted the Slave Trade Act 1807, to prohibit the international slave trade originating in Africa.

In 1824, Fleetwood House was adapted for use as a new Quaker school, known as Newington Academy for Girls (also Newington College for Girls). In a time when girls' educational opportunities were limited, it offered a wide range of subjects (including sciences) "on a plan in degree differing from any hitherto adopted", according to the prospectus. It commissioned the world's first school bus, designed by George Shillibeer.

One of the school's founders was William Allen, a Quaker active with the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. His marriage to Grizell Hoare was the subject of a satirical cartoon, in which the school is referred to as the Newington Nunnery. Joseph Pease, later the first Quaker MP, wrote a doggerel verse praising Allen's marriage.

Fleetwood House was demolished in 1872. A fire station was constructed on the site. [3]

Related Research Articles

London Borough of Hackney Borough in United Kingdom

The London Borough of Hackney is a London borough in Inner London. The historical and administrative heart of Hackney is Mare Street, which lies 5 miles (8 km) north-east of Charing Cross. The borough is named after Hackney, its principal district. Southern and eastern parts of the borough are popularly regarded as being part of east London, with the northwest belonging to north London. Its population is 281,120 inhabitants.

Stoke Newington Area in London, England

Stoke Newington is an area occupying the north-west part of the London Borough of Hackney in north-east London, England. It is five miles northeast of Charing Cross. The Manor of Stoke Newington gave its name to Stoke Newington the ancient parish.

James Stephen (British politician) British lawyer and politician

James Stephen was the principal English lawyer associated with the movement for the abolition of slavery. Stephen was born in Poole, Dorset; the family home later being removed to Stoke Newington. He married twice and was the father of Sir James Stephen, grandfather of Sir James Fitzjames Stephen and Sir Leslie Stephen, and great-grandfather of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.

Isaac Watts English hymnwriter, theologian and logician

Isaac Watts was an English Congregational minister, hymn writer, theologian, and logician. He was a prolific and popular hymn writer and is credited with some 750 hymns. His works include "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross", "Joy to the World", and "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past". He is recognized as the "Godfather of English Hymnody"; many of his hymns remain in use today and have been translated into numerous languages.

Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington

The Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington was a metropolitan borough in the County of London between 1900 and 1965 when it became part of the London Borough of Hackney.

Clissold Park

Clissold Park is an open space in Stoke Newington, in the London Borough of Hackney. It is bounded by Greenway Close, Stoke Newington Church Street and Green Lanes (west) and Queen Elizabeth's Walk (east). It was named by the Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington, which was the local authority when the park was established. The park is 22.57 hectares in extent.

William Allen (English Quaker) English scientist, philanthropist, and abolitionist

William Allen was an English scientist and philanthropist who opposed slavery and engaged in schemes of social and penal improvement in early 19th-century England.

Abney Park Cemetery

Abney Park cemetery is one of the "Magnificent Seven" cemeteries in London, England.

Parks and open spaces in the London Borough of Hackney

The London Borough of Hackney, one of the inner London boroughs, has 62 parks, gardens and open spaces within its boundaries, totalling 330 ha. These provide the "green lungs" for leisure activities. Hackney Marshes contain the largest concentration of football pitches in Europe.

Stoke Newington Church Street Street in the London Borough of Hackney

Stoke Newington Church Street is a road in north London of the borough of Hackney. The road links Green Lanes (A105) in the west to Stoke Newington High Street, in the east. Stoke Newington is one of the villages swallowed by the growth of London in the 19th century, and Church Street retains some of this neighbourhood feel, with many restaurants, pubs, and independent (non-chain) shops.

Mary, Lady Abney inherited the Manor of Stoke Newington in 1701 from her brother. The property lies about five miles north of St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London. She had a great influence on the design and landscaping of Abney Park, including the planting of the two elm walks that lead to Hackney Brook.

The Abney Park Temple Lodges are gatehouses to Abney Park Cemetery designed by William Hosking, to Abney Park in the London Borough of Hackney. The lodges are composed mainly of stone building materials and designed in an Egyptian Revival style, which was unusual for the time period of which the lodges were conceptualized. Augustis Pugin Jr. was famously against the non-European design of the lodges despite public fascination of Egyptology at the time.

Thomas Canry Caulker (1846–1859), (Sherbro) was born into a prominent African family, and his father ruled as King of Bompey, an African polity established in 1820 in what is now Sierra Leone. Caulker is among an early generation of West Africans sent to England for their education. His father wanted him prepared for demands for government and commerce in his homeland, before the Sierra Leone Protectorate was established by Great Britain. His father's ambition for him was influenced by the evangelical Christianity in the region, introduced largely by British abolitionists.

Samuel Hoare Jr English Quaker abolitionist, 1751–1825

Samuel Hoare Jr was a wealthy British Quaker banker and abolitionist born in Stoke Newington, then to the north of London in the county of Middlesex. His London seat was Heath House on Hampstead Heath. He was one of the twelve founding members of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Newington Green Unitarian Church Church in London , England

Newington Green Unitarian Church (NGUC) in north London is one of England's oldest Unitarian churches. It has had strong ties to political radicalism for over 300 years, and is London's oldest Nonconformist place of worship still in use. It was founded in 1708 by English Dissenters, a community of which had been gathering around Newington Green for at least half a century before that date. The church belongs to the umbrella organisation known as the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, and has had an upturn in its fortunes since the turn of the millennium.

Charles Fleetwood

Charles Fleetwood was an English Parliamentarian soldier and politician, Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1652–1655, where he enforced the Cromwellian Settlement. Named Cromwell's Lieutenant General for the Third English Civil War, Fleetwood was thereafter one of his most loyal supporters throughout the Protectorate. After the Lord Protector's death, Fleetwood was initially supportive of his brother-in-law Richard Cromwell, but turned against him and forced him from power. Together with his colleague John Lambert he dominated government for a little over a year before being outmaneuvered by George Monck. At the Restoration he was included in the Act of Indemnity as among the twenty liable to penalties other than capital, and was finally incapacitated from holding any office of trust. His public career then closed.

Newington Academy for Girls

The Newington Academy for Girls, also known as Newington College for Girls, was a Quaker school established in 1824 in Stoke Newington, then north of London. In a time when girls' educational opportunities were limited, it offered a wide range of subjects "on a plan in degree differing from any hitherto adopted", according to the prospectus. It was also innovative in commissioning the world's first school bus. One of its founders was William Allen, a scientist and businessman active with the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Sir John Hartopp, 3rd Baronet (1637?–1722) was an English politician, a nonconformist and early Whig.

Richard Canreba Caulker (18??–1901), also known as Canrah Bah Caulker, was ruler of the Bumpe Chiefdom, 1864–1888 and 1894–1901. This area became incorporated into the Sierra Leone Protectorate in 1888, and is now part of the Moyamba District of the independent Sierra Leone nation.

Joseph Hurlock was a director of the East India Company.


  1. "Abney House".
  2. "Fleetwood House", London Gardens Online, drawing on English Heritage Register Upgrade (1998); John Wittich, London Villages, (Shire Publications) 3rd ed. 1987; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, The London Encyclopaedia (Macmillan) revised ed. 1993; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin) 1998; Arthur Mee The King's England: London North of the Thames except the City and Westminster (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd) 1972; Paul Joyce, A Guide to Abney Park Cemetery (Abney Park Cemetery Trust, 2nd ed. 1994); various Abney Park Cemetery leaflets; John Harvey, The Nursery Garden (Museum of London) 1990.]
  3. Stoke Newington: Public services, A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 8: Islington and Stoke Newington parishes (1985), pp. 200–204. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=10537 Date accessed: 23 October 2011.


See also

Coordinates: 51°33′54″N0°04′41″W / 51.5649°N 0.0781°W / 51.5649; -0.0781