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Mr. Gunston's sister became possessed of his interest, as his residuary legatee, and in consequence of her marriage with Sir Thomas Abney, (at the time Lord Mayor of London, it became the property of his family.
Stoke Newington is on the verge of the Tower Hamlets, and is bounded by the parishes of Hornsey, Islington, Hackney, and Tottenham. The village commences at about the second milestone, east of Shoreditch church ; and at that point is only three miles from the site of the Royal Exchange. Abney Park is, therefore, so situated as to comprise the advantages of that seclusion and retirement, which are now happily recognized as almost necessary qualifications for places of burial; and at the same time is accessible to a dense and increasing population.
The district to which Abney Park more particularly recommends itself as an attractive and adjacent cemetery, and which may be assumed as coming within the fair range of its operations, may be stated to include the city of London, with the boroughs of Finsbury and the Tower Hamlets (the population of the latter borough alone being nearly 400,000); and, indeed, from London Bridge, on the south, to Tottenham, Edmonton, and even Enfield, on the north; and from Clerkenwell on the one hand, to the densely populated and extensive parishes of Stepney and Limehouse on the other.
It will be found that this project in no way interferes with any settled arrangements of similar institutions. Measuring distances from Abney Park to the other cemeteries, as the crow flies, it will be ascertained, that it encroaches upon no pre-occupied position. The distance to the cemeteries of Highgate, Kensal Green, Westminster, and Norwoood, being respectively four miles (within a fraction), six miles and a half, seven miles, and eight miles ; and, continuing the process of admeasurement, it will be found upon taking the Post Office and Cornhill, as convenient and well-known centres, that Abney Park is nearer to each, than either of the others, by almost a mile. Notwithstanding these preeminent advantages of position, Abney Park is sufficiently removed to be completely out of the town, and is both retired and secluded, without the exclusion of any outward source of profit, general interest, or peculiar advantage; whilst the fine, ancient, ornamental, and useful timber with which the estate abounds adds an appropriate beauty to the site, which the infant growth of the plantations of the other cemeteries prevents them from possessing.
When the Abney Park Cemetery was simply a projected scheme, and had “no local habitation," and hardly a name, I took considerable pains to collect returns of the number of burials which had occurred during a period of twelve months, viz., from the 13th day of December, 1836, to the 12th day of December, 1837, within the circuit of those parishes which were fairly assumed to be within the range of the company's operations, and I found that they
amounted to nearly 9,000; the greater proportion occurring in districts immediately adjacent to Abney Park; and I find that the experience of subsequent years justifies an excess, rather than a diminution, of this estimate.
Of a considerable proportion of these interterments, no permanent registry exists; and to what obscure, unvisited, and neglected “burialgrounds” the remains of many of their silent tenants have been conveyed, it would be difficult to tell, and perhaps distressing to read. It is quite evident, that the high rate of charges generally demanded in the city, and suburban churchyards, places it beyond the reach of many to be interred there: and few Dissenting Chapels are furnished with a competent space of ground to admit them.
The ultimate disposition of the miscellaneous dead, if the expression is permissible,
* The expression “ultimate disposition" has reference to the destination of those multitudes of bodies, and bones, which are prematurely disinterred to make room for successors. Upon the authority of the Quarterly Review it may be stated, that “many tons of human bones, every year, are sent from London to the north, where they are crushed in mills, contrived for the purpose, and used for manure ;” and the article, from which this quotation is made, has the following note appended to it: “The eagerness of English agriculturalists to obtain this manure, (human bones,) and the cupidity of foreigners in supplying it, is such as to ininduce the latter to rob the tombs of their forefathers. Bones of all descriptions are imported, and pieces of half decayed coffin-attire are found among them.”—Quarterly Review, 42.
is a problem in London statistics, not yet satisfactorily solved.
Surrounded, then, as it is by multitudes upon multitudes of the living, daily and almost hourly parting with some of their number, who have out-distanced them in life's uncertain journey—Abney Park, in itself beautiful and interesting, and in every respect appropriate to the purpose, has been, (as already intimated,) religiously dedicated as a lasting and peaceful resting-place for the dead ; and whilst I am writing, many are sleeping under its virgin soil :
REQUIESCANT IN PACE.
The following criticism appeared, in a weekly periodical, shortly after the opening of Abney Park Cemetery :
“ Our readers are probably aware, that there are already four large public cemeteries formed in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, varying in superficial extent from twenty to forty-six acres. Of these none surpass, in natural advantages and picturesque beauty, that at Abney Park, which has also the advantage of greater proximity to the metropolis than any of the others.
Abney Park lies within two miles and a half of the Stone's end, on the Eastern side of London, and is already nobly planted. Many of the trees in the engraving* may be termed individual portraits rather
* A well-executed wood-cut apparently reduced from a larger lithographed drawing, by Jobbins, which had been made for distribution amongst the Proprietors and others, accompanied this article.
than mere pictorial representations. Nothing can exceed the fine proportions of some of these aged trees; amongst which are beautifuland rarespecimens of the Cedar of Lebanon, the Witch Elm, the HorseChestnut, and the Liriodendron Tulipifera. There is, also, a fine grove of ancient Yew-trees upon the
property, which adds much to the picturesque effect, and is peculiarly characterestic of the sacred purposes to which the estate is devoted.
“The engraving represents a bird's-eye view of the ground taken from the turret of the mansion house which belongs to the Cemetery Company. Herein the celebrated Dr. Isaac Watts died, after having spent the last thirty-six years of his life under the roof of his friend and patron, Sir Thomas Abney, and of his widow, Lady Abney ; to whom the estate then belonged.
Great as are the natural advantages of this property, they would be of slight comparative value, with reference to its present appropriation, if the soil had been of a wet and humid nature; but, on the point of drainage, this company is particularly fortunate, as, throughout the greater portion of the land, excavations may be made to the depth of fifty feet and upwards, and an average depth of thirty feet may be obtained without the slightest appearance of springs or water. This is a practical advantage, of which few can estimate the benefit, unless circumstances
may have invited or compelled their attention to the subject.
“The architectural arrangements are not, as yet completed, but it would be an omission not to allude to the striking specimens of pure Egyptian architecture displayed in the lodges and buildings of the Eastern entrance on the Stoke Newington road, at the foot of Stamford Hill. A temporary chapel