Abney Park has been awarded a development grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery for the Abney Park Restoration Project. This initial grant, of £315,000 will see the project developed further and a second bid will be made in June next year. If successful at this second round, the project will see nearly £5 million in lottery funding dedicated to the restoration of Abney Park.
The bid was submitted by Hackney Council and its partners the Abney Park Trust and Abney Park User Group. Abney Park Trust has been closely involved in developing the proposals, working in partnership with the Council, Abney Park User Group, Local Councillors and specialists, including Historic England and nature experts.
The project proposals include work to restore the Grade II listed lodge buildings, new workspaces for stone carving, woodworking, and creative workshops, along with improved educational facilities.
The Grade II listed chapel will also see further restoration to enable wider use for community, music, theatre, and creative events to encourage further involvement and help sustain the park in the future.
After decades of decay, the building was stabilised last year, jointly funded by Hackney Council and Historic England. The Trust has since invested in modular staging, seating, and lighting to enable this charismatic space to be used for a variety of events already.
Shelagh Taylor, Chair of the Trust, says: “This is absolutely fantastic news. The Trust is working hard to support the on-going 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.”
That investment also includes recently completed work to restore two Grade II listed monuments that were at risk and on-going fundraising campaign to restore Dr Isaac Watts’ monument and replace a stolen hand – this prolific hymn writer, poet, and wit lived in the Abney Manor for 36 years before his death in 1748 and it is on the grounds of Abney Manor that he walked and wrote his hymns sitting by the (now buried) Hackney Brook river that forms the northern boundary of Abney Park cemetery.