Willesden Jewish Cemetery

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Willesden Jewish Cemetery
Willesden Jewish Cemetery prayer hall.jpg
The cemetery's prayer hall, designed by Nathan Solomon Joseph
Willesden Jewish Cemetery is located in Greater London
Willesden Jewish Cemetery
Beaconsfield Road, Willesden (London Borough of Brent), London NW10 2JE
CountryEngland, United Kingdom
TypeOrthodox Jewish
StyleVictorian; English Gothic
Owned byUnited Synagogue Burial Society
SizeAbout 9.3 hectares[1]
No. of graves29,800[2]
WebsiteOfficial website
Find a GraveWillesden United Synagogue Cemetery
Listed Building – Grade II
Official nameWillesden Jewish Cemetery (United Synagogue Cemetery)
Designated4 September 2017
Reference no.1449184
House of Life project, Willesden Cemetery
Willesden Jewish Cemetery logo.jpeg
Legal statusRegistered charity
PurposeTo preserve the heritage of, increase accessibility to and increase biodiversity at Willesden Jewish Cemetery.
HeadquartersWillesden Jewish Cemetery
Hester Abrams
Parent organization
United Synagogue

The Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery, usually known as Willesden Jewish Cemetery, is a cemetery for Jews at Beaconsfield Road, Willesden, in the London Borough of Brent, England. It opened in 1873 on a 20-acre (0.08 km2) site.[3] It has been described as the "Rolls Royce" of London's Jewish cemeteries[4] and is designated Grade II on Historic England's Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.[5] The cemetery, which has 29,800 graves,[2][nb 1] has many significant memorials and monuments. Four of them are listed at Grade II.[6][7][8][9] They include the tomb of Rosalind Franklin, who was a co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.[8]

In 2015, the United Synagogue, which owns and manages the cemetery, was awarded a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund[10] to restore some key features of the cemetery and to create a visitor centre, a permanent exhibition and a web-based education project.[11][12] The cemetery's heritage project, House of Life,[13] officially opened up the cemetery to visitors on 7 September 2020:[14] it has a programme of public outreach events that have included walking tours,[15] an online literary festival ("Life Lines")[16] and an exhibition at Willesden Library.[17]

History and heritage listing[edit]

The cemetery, developed on ground purchased from All Souls College, Oxford, was opened in 1873,[18] three years after the United Synagogue was established by Act of Parliament. It was expanded in 1890, in 1906 and between 1925 and 1926. The cemetery and its funerary buildings, in English Gothic style, were designed by the architect Nathan Solomon Joseph (1834–1909).

In 2017 Historic England listed the cemetery at Grade II[19][20] on the grounds of: its being the first venture of the United Synagogue; its having associations with many influential families and individuals who are buried there; its overall design by a prominent Jewish architect; "the quality, opulence and variety displayed by the monuments as a group, reflecting both Jewish traditions and English influences"; and its survival – "the Old Cemetery remains intact, whilst the subsequent evolution of the cemetery is well-documented and legible".[21]

War graves and listed war memorial[edit]

The cemetery has 33 Commonwealth service war graves from World War I,[nb 2] six of which form a small group by the Assembly Hall,[22] and 77 from World War II, 22 of them grouped in a war graves plot. These include the grave of Dudley Joel (1904–1941), businessman and Conservative Party politician, who died in World War II.[23]

In place of a Cross of Sacrifice, a memorial designed by Ralph Hobday in the form of an obelisk was placed in 1961 by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission opposite the World War II war graves plot.[24] It commemorates both world wars. Israel Brodie, the Chief Rabbi, consecrated the memorial, which was unveiled by Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer.[25] The first national Jewish war memorial in the UK, it is Grade II listed.[6]

Other listed monuments[edit]

There are three other Grade II listed monuments at the cemetery:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 23 members of the Rothschild family are buried in the cemetery.
    Hinson, Tamara (15 October 2020). "A date with death: Why a visit to Willesden Jewish Cemetery is more uplifting than morbid". The Independent. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  2. ^ Eight of the Commonwealth service war graves from World War I are soldiers who were from, or had a connection to, Australia.
    Page, Beth. "Willesden – Brent: Willesden Jewish Cemetery". WW1 Australian soldiers & nurses who rest in the United Kingdom. Retrieved 26 July 2020.


  1. ^ "United Synagogue Willesden Cemetery". London Gardens Trust. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Willesden Cemetery "House of Life"". United Synagogue. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Willesden Cemetery". United Synagogue. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  4. ^ "New Listings Announced to Celebrate 70 Years of Protecting England's Historic Buildings". Historic England. 7 August 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  5. ^ Historic England (4 September 2017). "Willesden Jewish Cemetery (United Synagogue Cemetery) (1449184)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b Historic England (5 September 2017). "War Memorial, Willesden Jewish Cemetery (1449842)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  7. ^ a b Historic England (5 September 2017). "Tomb of Max Eberstadt, Willesden Jewish Cemetery (United Synagogue Cemetery) (1449845)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Historic England (7 March 2017). "Tomb of Rosalind Franklin (1444176)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  9. ^ a b Historic England (5 September 2017). "Burial enclosures of Mayer, Juliana and Hannah Rothschild in Willesden Jewish Cemetery (United Synagogue Cemetery) (1449844)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Willesden Jewish Cemetery 'House of Life'". National Lottery Heritage Fund. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Historic cemetery to get £2m heritage facelift". The Jewish Chronicle. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  12. ^ Abrams, Hester (July 2017). "Project breathes life into Willesden cemetery" (PDF). Jewish Renaissance. p. 10. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  13. ^ "House of Life". Willesden Jewish Cemetery. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  14. ^ Oryszczuk, Stephen (7 September 2020). "Willesden Cemetery opens to day-trippers after Lottery-backed conservation". Jewish News. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  15. ^ Keith, Lauren (3 November 2020). "This historic cemetery in London is now open to tours". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  16. ^ Johnson, Alex (2 September 2020). "London Cemetery to Host 'Life Lines' Virtual Literary Gathering". Fine Books and Collections. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  17. ^ Raffray, Nathalie (9 October 2019). "Exhibition to reveal secrets of the 'Rolls-Royce of Jewish Cemeteries' in Willesden". Brent and Kilburn Times. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  18. ^ "Inauguration of Jewish Cemetery". The Jewish Chronicle. 10 October 1873.
  19. ^ "Lease of life for a Victorian cemetery". The Times. 24 August 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  20. ^ Kennedy, Maev (7 August 2017). "Grade II-listed for 70th anniversary". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  21. ^ Historic England (1 August 2017). "Complex of Funerary Buildings at Willesden Jewish Cemetery (United Synagogue Cemetery) (1448718)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  22. ^ "Willesden Jewish Cemetery". British Jews in the First World War: We Were There Too. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  23. ^ "Joel, Dudley Jack Bernarto". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  24. ^ "Willesden Jewish Cemetery". Cemetery details. Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  25. ^ "Jewish memorial". British Movietone. 21 July 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  26. ^ "Design for the Gravestone of Max Eberstadt". Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  27. ^ Banerjee, Jacqueline (21 November 2018). "Caricature – Line of Heads: Burne-Jones and Anti-Semitism". The Victorian Web. Retrieved 1 April 2020.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°32′41″N 0°14′24″W / 51.5447°N 0.2399°W / 51.5447; -0.2399