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IntroductionEdit

The historic grounds of Abney Park are situated in Congregationalist'), Dr Isaac Watts, and the neighbouring Hartopp family who leased the eastern part of the park from Lady Abney.

In the early 17th century, Lady Mary Abney's park was accessed via the frontages and gardens of two large mansions on her estate — her own manor house (Abney House), and the neighbouring Fleetwood House and its detached Summerhouse. Both mansions fronted onto Church Street in the quiet Dr Isaac Watts and Cedar of Lebanon tree had already taken place, adjacent to an ornamental pond. This tree survived into the 1920s and is illustrated in many engravings.

Other trees planted at an early date at Abney Park (either in the portion leased to Fleetwood Hosue, or that attached solely to Abney House) included American Larch and Stoke Newington's nonconformists had strong connections.

Abney HouseEdit

Abney Park was dominated by Abney House. In its final days it became a Wesleyan Methodist training college or seminary c.1838/9-1843, and was then 'recycled' (broken up for sale as building materials for the building trade of the rapidly expanding metropolis) as was common in the Victorian era. The governorship of the ministerial training establishment at Abney House was granted to the Rev. John Farrar 1802-1884 (Secretary of the Methodist Conference on fourteen occasions and twice its elected President). When the Methodists moved into their first purpose-built college at Richmond, south of London, in 1843, he became the Classical Tutor and remained there until 1857.

Fleetwood HouseEdit

Alongside the Methodist Training college was another educational establishment of note in Abney Park: a Quaker achool for girls which attracted various appelations including 'Newington College for Girls' or 'Newington Academy for Girls', and satirically as 'Newington Nunnery'.

One visitor, Joseph Pease (who became the first Quaker MP and whose daughter was important in slavery abolition) wrote of the girls' school at Abney Park in 1827, shortly after it acquired the first school bus (Shillibeer) in the world:

"Dear Coz* in my last
I shewed the advantage as well as renown
That our body of Friends cannot fail to acquire
By the Female Establishment 2 miles from Town"
"Where the pupils imbibe such astounding variety
Of stores intellectual - I solemly vow
Since the earliest days of the Quaker Society,
Such achievements by girls were ne'er heard of till now."
"No science, no art, in their tribe is a mystery
The path of the earth and the tides of the sea,
Cosmography, Algebra, Chemistry, History
To those juvenile Blues are a mere A.B.C"
"And in languages -oh you'd not credit their skill !
One can scarce name a tongue, Coz, but what they can reason in,
Greek, Hebrew, French, Latin, Italian at will,
With Irish and Welch for occasional seasoning."
"The strainht path of Truth the dear Girl's keep their feet in
And ah ! It would do your heart good Cousin Anne
To see them arriving at Gracechurch Street Meeting**
All snugly packed 25 in a van***."

[*Cousin Anne; **the Quaker Meeting House in the City of London that they attended for services; ***the first school bus in the world, a 'Shillibeer']

Pease's poem reflects the novelty of a school for girls teaching sciences in such detail at this date. This was in no small measure due to the influence of the school's benefactor, the Quaker scientist and abolitionist William Allen, and to its headmistress, Susanna Corder.

The school's first prospectus was issued on 14th August 1824 and it began taking pupils shortly thereafter. It is unclear when it closed, but the novel Quaker girl's school lost exclusive use of the eastern portion of Abney Park when the Abney Park Cemetery was formed in 1840, though the pupils thereafter benefitted from its splendid educational arboretum designed by Loddiges. Fleetwood House itself was demolished in 1872.

Sources Edit

  • Shirren, A.J. (reprint; 1951 1st ed) The Chronicles of Fleetwood House. University of Houston Foundation: Pacesetter
  • Whitehead, Jack (1983) The Growth of Stoke Newington. London: J Whitehead
  • Joyce, Paul (1984) A guide to Abney Park Cemetery. London: Hackney Society
Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Abney Park. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with QuakerWiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.


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