Abney Park Cemetery
Those with long memories may recognise the above photograph, as the angel featured is on the cover of ‘Darkest Day’.
My last post mentioned this non-conformist cemetery in Stoke Newington’s main shopping area. At its centre is Europe’s long-standing non-denominational chapel, currently derelict. It sets the tone for the mossy, damp, gloomy yet distinctly urban graveyard, one of London’s Magnificent Seven sites of interment which includes Brompton and Highgate cemeteries.
Many Victorian comedians and circus performers are buried here, including one lion tamer with his finger bitten off, a pantomime dame and the fabulously named performer Albert Onésime Britannicus Gwathveoyd Louis Chevalier. For sober balance, William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, is also stashed here.
There are a large number of tumbledown tombs and Egyptian stylings, but few statues of artistic merit. it’s where Amy Winehouse filmed her ‘Back to Black’ video, keeping the performance tradition alive. There’s something of the night about the place – it’s not a good idea to pick flowers or go mushrooming here because arsenic from so many embalmed Victorian corpses has poisoned the soil. I brought a friend from California here and she had a panic attack. It’s hard to believe that you can get lost in a place that’s just a few paces from the local high street.