Abney's residents

There are over 200,000 people laid to rest in Abney Park Cemetery, from world-famous names such as William Booth to relatively unsung heroes, such as Betsi Cadwaladr who, aged over 60, worked as a nurse alongside Florence Nightingale in the Crimea War.

Here we touch upon the stories of just a few of the people for whom Abney is their final resting place.

More will be added periodically, so keep checking back to learn more about the remarkable lives of Abney's 'residents'.

If you or your family have a story to share about someone buried at Abney, please contact the Trust.

 

William & Catherine Booth

Born in modest circumstances, Salvation Army founder William Booth's social conscience was roused when working in a pawnbroker's in London. He met his wife Catherine, a fellow refugee from the Methodists at a chapel in Clapham, marrying her in 1855. Catherine had been active in the temperance movement from a very young age and was a staunch defender of women's right to preach. William Booth sowed the seeds of the Salvation Army when he started evangelical preaching in a tent in Whitechapel. This fondness for eyecatching and novel ways of spreading his message carried on in later life when he toured the country in the relatively new technology, the motor car, from Land's End to Aberdeen in 1904. Catherine died in 1890 and William in 1912. It's said two million people lined the streets to view his funeral procession and 40 Salvation Army bands played him to rest.

 

Frank and Susannah Bostock

Frank Bostock travelled far from his Northern roots, travelling the world with an amazing menagerie throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He survived lion and tiger attacks to gain a reputation as the big-cat tamer extraordinaire (it's said he was the one to discover lions are afraid of chairs!) so it's only appropriate that his monument is in the form of a magnificent, but rather tame-looking, marble lion. But his demise didn't come in a lion's cage, rather in bed from the flu.

 

Betsi Cadwaladr

Welsh nurse Betsi Cadwaladr has been called 'the forgotten Florence Nightingale'. The daughter of a Methodist preacher from North Wales, Betsi seems to have had a fiercely independent character, running away from home to work as a maid in Liverpool, running away again to avoid marriage, and travelling the world as maid to a ship's captain. She was over 60 when, having read of the plight of soldiers in the Crimea, she decided to train as a nurse and joined the military nursing service. She clashed with Nightingale – there was a big difference in age and temperament – but eventually Florence did give Betsi credit for the work she did at the front line in Balaclava. Sadly, Betsi returned to Britain suffering from cholera and dysentery, dying five years after her return, and was buried in a common grave. In 2012, the Royal College of Nursing and the Welsh health board that shares Betsi's name installed a headstone to mark Betsi's final resting place and share her story with visitors to the cemetery.

 

Joanna Vassa

Joanna was the daughter of the man who could claim to be Britain's first Black activist, Olaudah Equiano alias Gustavus Vassa. Equiano was shipped to England as a slave, served in the navy and obtained his freedom in 1766. He became a writer, Methodist and anti-slavery campaigner, and wrote a groundbreaking autobiography The Interesting Narrative of the Life Of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African, published in 1789. Vassa married Susannah Cullen of Soham, Cambridgeshire and they had two daughters. Joanna's sister, father and mother all died when she was a child and little is known of her younger days. She married the congregational minister Henry Bromley, and lived with him in Devon, Essex and finally Hackney, where she died in 1857. Her grave was discovered in 2005 and listed by English Heritage.

 


 

 

Park opening times

Abney Park is open from 8 am year round and closes at varying times. 

The current opening hours are 8 am – 5.30 pm daily.

CLOSED Sat 21st Oct Due to high winds

 

The Visitors Centre

is usually open from
10am – 3pm,  
Monday to Friday,
though times vary
so please call before
making a special visit.

Contact Details

Abney Park, Stoke Newington High Street,
London N16 0LH

Tel: 0207 275 7557

info@abneypark.org