An online lecture and Q&A Session exploring the Victorian garden cemetery today as a place for mortality mediation and shared community space
In this post, I’ll share with you some of the investigations into the scientific basis for animistic folklore that I explored for my PhD thesis, which resulted in my two nature audio walks through Abney Park cemetery: Woodland Magick and Woodland Networks.
I cannot avoid the conclusion that all matter is composed of intelligent atoms and that life and mind are merely synonyms for the aggregation of atomic intelligence.
– Thomas Edison, 1903
As a metaphysical monism, animism is based upon the idea that nature’s essence is minded.
– Emma Restall Orr, 2012
Why do the dead return? Why, in the darkness of the night, when all activity has been reduced to a trembling in the distance, do the dead disavow their rest and return to the living? Those who pass from the land of the dead to the living carry with them the promise of a place to come, and that place is haunted. –Dylan Trigg
We love our ghost stories. We love to share them, analyse them, hunt for them, and hopefully even capture them with our cameras. But therein lies the troublesome aspect of ghosts—because our search is the pleasure, there is no joy in the answer.
There is in an excitement in these feelings; as a child, many of us remember the sudden horror, then the thrill, of walking through a cemetery and imagining a hand creeping out of a cracked grave. Or walking through an old ruin, forgetting the heritage of the place to instead imagine deep tragedies of our own invention, wishing for glimpses of the ghostly Grey Ladies who cry for justice amongst the stones.
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.
By Andrea Gambaro
Located in the north-west corner of Hackney, Stoke Newington has been recently dragged into the rapidly expanding makeover of the East End. Nevertheless, gentrification hasn’t erased the village-like character which distinguishes “Stokey” – as it is known locally – from the typical London urban landscape.
Such character is particularly evident along Church Street, where the original hamlet developed. At its east end, the Neo-Egyptian gates mark the main entrance to Abney Park, home to one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ London cemeteries. Past the gates, the inscriptions of ancient gravestones accompany the visitor through wide avenues and narrow paths, alongside memorials, monuments and, in the middle of the park, the Gothic chapel.
Read more on Travel Mag here.
‘All Hallows’ Evening String Quartet’
31st October – 8pm to 9pm (gates open 7:30pm for prompt 8pm start)
Tickets available here.
Abney Park Trust are excited to announce that The Winter Quartet will be playing a All Hallows’ Eve concert at Abney Park within the chapel. They’ll be performing some wonderful, spirited, and atmospherically thematic tunes that will be familiar to the listener, by well-known classical composers, brought to life in this performance recital. They will take you on a musical journey, exploring our fear of the unknown and our own personal demons through fantasy. Stories of mountain kings, castles, dances of marionettes, and spirits emerge as the melodies becoming more regal and majestic. The mood lightening as the dances take on a major key for a celebration before our final moment of clarity and salvation.
My PhD research is a study of the layers of heritage and cultural meaning within the Victorian garden cemetery Abney Park in Stoke Newington, north London. I am a practice-based researcher, and my research methodology is to explore these themes by way of a walking practice in the cemetery. I have crafted four audio walks in an endeavour to offer the community an invitation to view a selection of, perhaps, new perspectives and doors of perception into the various aspects of the cemetery space.
Throughout my four years as a walking practitioner researching Abney Park, I have walked alone through the cemetery, at all times of day, at all times of year. However, I have been walking in Abney for a total of nine years, simply for my own personal enjoyment. Sometimes I would walk with other people, but the majority of my time in Abney has been as a woman walking alone.
Perhaps from naivete, or a certain rash boldness, I never considered my walking practice as strange, or particularly dangerous. And it wasn’t until two years ago, when I read psychogeographer Geoff Nicholson’s account of taking a walk through Abney Park Cemetery, that I considered my gender – and my favourite pastime – could be perceived this way.