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has been erected, with excellent Catacombs constructed under it, and the large permanent chapel, the elevation of which is shewn in the engraving, is in the course of erection.
“The cemetery has been opened during the present month. The mode in which the planting department has been conducted, deserves the attention of the visitor. The Directors confided the planting arrangements to Messrs. Loddiges, of Hackney, who have formed a complete arboretum of plants, in which specimens will be found of all trees and shrubs which are sufficiently hardy to bear the out-door climate of this country.
“A small portion of the estate, consisting of three or four acres, has been set apart for the reception of roses only; and in this rosarium are planted upwards of 1,000 different specimens. The arboretum containing above 2,000 varieties of shrubs and trees, including a choice collection of pines, is also completed; with the exception of the Magnolia and Rhododendron tribes, which, with the other American flowering shrubs, will not be planted until the autumn.
“ The great value of some of the shrubs will not allow the directors to open the grounds indiscriminately, and at all times and hours; but we understand that, the cemetry being opened for interments, any respectable applicant may at once receive an order for admission to view the establishment.
“We are among those who view interment in cemeteries, as a great public improvement upon the old plan of burying in churches; and, accordingly wish each establishment of the kind its fair proportion of success.”
Literary World, May 30, 1840.
As a place of sepulture, separated by the act of dedication and the necessary legal
forms from the common uses to which a landed estate is devoted; watched with vigilance, that no desecration of its defenceless tenants may be committed ; and ornamented both by nature and art, this beautiful cemetery must have attractions for the most unobserving, and the least reflecting. There are also particular associations connected with its former but now long deceased occupants, and also with the public troubles of the times in which some of them took part.
In the catalogue of eminent persons who have resided in the village of Stoke Newington may be inserted the names of Daniel Defoe, Isaac Watts, General Fleetwood, Thomas Day, (the author of Sandford and Merton,) and that genuine philanthropist, John Howard; and in later times Dr. Aikin, with his sister, the accomplished Mrs. Barbauid.
Two of this number, Dr. Isaac Watts and General Fleetwood, were for a long period intimately connected with this estate: the former resided upon it for many years under the patronage and friendship of the Abney family; and to the latter a large portion of it belonged, both during the period of the Commonwealth and after the Restoration.
The estate now known as Abney Park was, during the seventeenth century, divided into two ownerships ; the larger portion, including the the site of the present manor house, and the avenues of ancient elms stretching north and south across the grounds, was the estate held by Sir Alexander Popham and his family, and afterwards purchased by Mr. Gunston. The other portion, ranging from the large cedar of Lebanon, in the part called the Wilderness, and continued to the southern extremity, where the mound, popularly called Watts's Mound, is placed,--and all the land east of that line, as far as the principal entrance to the cemetery, was, during the Commonwealth and after the Restoration, the property of General Fleetwood; and from the circumstance of his connexion with the estate, some interesting associations have sprung up.
Fleetwood married Ireton's widow, she being the eldest daughter of Oliver Cromwell, and the house which they occupied still remains.* The greater portion of the grounds attached to it, now form a part of the cemetery, and some of the trees were supposed to have been planted by the hands of Fleetwood. The magnificent cedar of
* Fleetwood's mansion is now divided into two private residences, the one in the occupation of John St. Barbe, Esq., and the other of J. Mercy, Esq. Each centains relics of the age of the Commonwealth; and proceeding from one of them is a subterraneous passage (the extent of which is not now known), but it is said that a portion of the Republican troops often found a refuge there, and that within its silent chambers valuable treasures have been deposited.
Lebanon, a portrait of which forms one of the illustrations of this volume, is amongst that number. This beautiful and appropriate tree will at once be admitted to be one of the finest specimens we have of the species; and it excels many of its contemporaries in height, the circumference of its stem, and of its longitudinal branches. The health and vigour of this monarch of trees are surprising when its age is considered. In the conversion of the estate to its present interesting and solemn purposes, it was found necessary to remove large portions of underwood and over-grown and decayed trees, and the free circulation of air, so introduced, has been of much assistance to it. Its oldest friends and admirers (and few living things have enjoyed a longer succession of constant ones) assert, that they have never seen it in a more healthy and promising state. Its age is nearly 200 years, and I believe that few older English specimens exist. Many cedars which are known to have been planted about the same time exhibit extreme weakness and decay, and this circumstance, assisted at times by the fancy of their owners, has given them an imaginary antiquity.
It appears that many years ago a mower's scythe was suspended by the point in the trunk of this cedar, and being forgotten or concealed from view by the surrounding underwood and shrubs, the tree in its growth has completely covered the blade, and now no more is seen than a small portion of the iron heel to which the handle of the scythe is usually fastened, although a few years since the extreme point was visible on the opposite side of the trunk the blade passing through the tree, but by the increased circumference of the stem, it has now become concealed from view. There are also
fine specimens of the American Larch, and of the Liriodendron Tulipifera, in Fleetwood's old grounds: these, with other trees, are supposed to have been introduced by him from America, in his various voyages during the uncertain time in which he was a conspicuous actor.
There are many incidents of history connected with Fleetwood's occupation of part of this estate, which would be interesting to the reader ; but this work will so far exceed the anticipated limit, that they must be left without further notice. There is one fact, however, or rather tradition, for it requires a more solid foundation to entitle it to the appellation of a fact, which I cannot altogether omit. In the northern corner of the estate, a mound, or tumulus, exists, to which is annexed the tradition, that the remains of OLIVER CROMWELL are deposited under it.
This report I have received from the lips of various old people born in the parish, who affirm, that they have received it from those who were living not so much posterior to the Restoration but that they might have had some plausible authority for their assertion.
This mound, or tumulus, for it much resembles that ancient style of sepulchre in shape and formation, is popularly called “Watts's mound;"