The first non-denominational funerary chapel in Europe
Victorian London overflowed with bodies both living and dead, with the overcrowding of parish graveyards by the latter causing almost as much disquiet among the middle classes as the slum-dwellers. Contamination was feared and so a network of suburban necropolises – since dubbed the ‘magnificent seven’ – was built to accommodate the posthumous populace. These offered a resting place for various Christians, and two buildings were provided for the use of mourners of each confession. Abney Park Cemetery was established in north-east London as an entirely non-denominational facility and, rather than constructing two buildings, its unconsecrated chapel was intended for all comers. The result was the first non-denominational funerary chapel in Europe, described in a 1903 brochure of the Abney Park Cemetery Company as the ‘Campo Santo of the English non-conformists’. The building’s designer, William Hosking, later became the first professor of architecture at King’s College London, and his antiquarian interests are reflected in both the chapel’s curious mixture of historical idioms and the splendid Egyptian cemetery gates. The cemetery company eventually went bankrupt, leading to the decay of the grounds and the chapel. This was attacked by arsonists in the 1970s and is now a semi-ruin, while the cemetery is famously haunted by cruisers and – according to one British newspaper – the scene of drug-fuelled tramp orgies. Non-conformist indeed.
Abney park jpg
Source: JHVW at English Wikipedia
abney park cemetery chapel