Abney Park Cemetery
Stoke Newington High Street, Stoke Newington, London N16 0LH
Much less known than the similar Highgate Cemetery, and all the better for it, Abney Park is a gloriously overgrown Victorian cemetery with a seductive, other-worldly edge. Entered via either of Stoke Newington’s two main thoroughfares, Church Street or the High Street, it stretches back a considerable distance from both. A few burials still take place, but it’s now run as a nature reserve, and is said to be the largest wooded area this close to central London. The trees, planted when it first opened in 1840 as Europe’s first non-denominational cemetery, have grown to full maturity, while ever-expanding undergrowth has crept over the crumbling headstones. Deep in the interior, a haunting Gothic chapel is gently decaying; beyond, narrow paths twist through ivy-tangled ranks of cracked, lopsided stones. Memorials that can still be read, generally nearer the outside edge of the cemetery, include the tomb of General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, and a poignant monument to the many local victims of the Blitz – when entire streets were wiped out in nearby Stamford Hill, and entire families with them.