Orbis were back at Abney Park Cemetery recently, working on a variety of stone monuments. Abney is in Stoke Newington and is one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ garden cemeteries of London. It is a woodland memorial park and nature reserve and is managed by Hackney Borough Council. It is a rather unusual environment for our team to work in, and not without its challenges, particularly access and weather!

Firstly, we have been finishing the conservation of the monument to Isaac Watts, including carving and fitting a new hand that has been missing for some years. The missing hand was modelled in wax in situ, using historic photographs as a reference, in order to have a model to carve from at our workshop. Our methodology and images of the wax hand were sent to Historic England for approval, which has now been granted.

Secondly, as part of Hackney Council’s monitoring program for the cemetery, each monument is tested for structural stability yearly. As a result, Orbis were appointed to consolidate all of the stones that failed these tests that were subsequently deemed unsafe.

We used a gantry to lift the stones that required treatment and pinned them using stainless steel dowels. It was a real challenge moving and setting up the gantry in the park, especially in a wet December, but the results were successful and the monuments can now continue to exist safely for themselves and the public.