Willesden Jewish Cemetery
The cemetery's prayer hall, designed by Nathan Solomon Joseph
|Owned by||United Synagogue Burial Society|
|Size||About 9.3 hectares|
|No. of graves||29,800|
|Find a Grave||Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery|
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. It opened in 1873 on a 20-acre (0.08 km2) site. It has been described as the "Rolls Royce" of London’s Jewish cemeteries and is designated Grade II on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. In 2015 it was awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore some key features of the cemetery and to create a visitor centre, a permanent exhibition and a web-based education project.
History and heritage listing
The cemetery, developed on ground purchased from All Souls College, Oxford, was opened in 1873, 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 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".
The cemetery, which has 29,800 graves, has many significant memorials and monuments. Four of them are listed at Grade II:
- The tomb of Maximilian (Max) Eberstadt (1844–1891), designed in 1891 by Edward Burne-Jones, includes a cut branch motif, indicating a life cut short. Eberstadt, who was born in Germany, and whose father was Mayor of Worms, was Secretary to the British merchant banker Ernest Cassel. His twin sister, Elizabeth, was a close friend of Burne-Jones.
- The tomb of chemist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin (1920–1958), co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. She died of ovarian cancer in 1958, aged 37.
- The tombs and burial enclosures of Mayer Amschel de Rothschild (1818–1874), businessman and Liberal Party MP, his wife Juliana de Rothschild (née Cohen; 1831–1877), and their daughter Hannah Primrose (née Rothschild), Countess of Rosebery (1851–1890), political hostess and philanthropist. The tombs were housed in a mausoleum constructed in the 1890s, but this was destroyed by a Second World War bomb in 1941.
Other notable burials
Some of the other notable persons interred here include:
Artists, architects and musicians
|Gerald Bright||1904–1974||Bandleader||Known professionally as "Geraldo", Bright became one of the most popular British dance band leaders of the 1930s with his "sweet music" and his "Gaucho Tango Orchestra". He modernised his style in the 1940s and continued to enjoy great success. In the 1950s he composed Scotlandia, Scottish Television's start-up music, heard daily at the beginning of programmes until the 1980s. He is buried alongside his wife, Manja Leigh.|||
|Mark Gertler||1891–1939||Painter of figure subjects, portraits and still-life||Gerter's early life and his relationship with Dora Carrington were the inspiration for Gilbert Cannan's 1916 novel Mendel: a story of youth. The characters of Loerke in D. H. Lawrence's 1920 novel Women in Love and Gombauld in Aldous Huxley's 1921 novel Crome Yellow were based on him.|||
|Jane Marian Joseph||1894–1929||Composer, arranger and music teacher||Jane Joseph was a pupil and later associate of the composer Gustav Holst, and was instrumental in the organisation and management of various of the music festivals which Holst sponsored. Many of her works were composed for performance at these festivals and similar occasions. Her early death at the age of 35, which prevented the full realisation of her talents, was considered by her contemporaries as a considerable loss to English music.|||
|Nathan S. Joseph||1834–1909||Philanthropist, social reformer, architect and Jewish communal leader||Nathan Joseph designed this cemetery and was the lead architect for Sandys Row Synagogue. He collaborated on the design of a number of other important synagogues, including the Garnethill Synagogue, New West End Synagogue, and Hampstead Synagogue. He was also noted for his work in designing improved housing for the poor.|||
|Isaac Snowman||1873–1947||Artist||Snowman was commissioned to paint portraits of King George V and Queen Mary. He also painted on Jewish cultural themes.|||
|Edward Solomon||1855–1895||Composer, conductor, orchestrator and pianist||Edward Solomon died aged only 39, by which time he had written dozens of works for the stage, many of them for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, including The Nautch Girl (1891). Early in his career, he collaborated frequently with Henry Pottinger Stephens. He had a bigamous marriage with the American actress and singer Lillian Russell in the 1880s.|||
|Simeon Solomon||1840–1905||Painter associated with the Pre-Raphaelites||Simeon Solomon, who was noted for his depictions of Jewish life and same-sex desire, is regarded a significant figure in the nineteenth-century's Pre-Raphaelite, Aesthetic and Symbolist movements. His grave was restored in 2014.|||
|Giulia Warwick (born Julia Ehrenberg)||1857–1904||Opera and concert singer and professor of music at the Guildhall School of Music||In her four years at the Carl Rosa Opera Company she made 224 appearances in seventeen operas.|||
|Asher Asher||1837–1889||Medical doctor||Asher was the first Scottish Jew to enter the medical profession. In London, he was secretary of its Great Synagogue, and then the first secretary of the United Synagogue.|||
|William Moses Feldman||1880–1939||Medical doctor and astronomer||Born in Pinsk (now in Belarus), Feldman became an expert on child health in Britain. A keen astronomer, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.|||
|Sir Charles Solomon Henry, 1st Baronet||1860–1919||Australian expatriate businessman and Liberal Member of the British Parliament||After cremation at Golders Green Crematorium, his ashes were buried in this cemetery.|||
|Barnett Janner, Baron Janner||1892–1982||Liberal (later Labour) MP and peer||Born in what is now Lithuania, Barnett Janner was brought up in Wales and practised as a solicitor before standing for Parliament. He was President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews from 1955 to 1964.|||
|Greville Janner, Baron Janner of Braunstone||1928–2015||Labour MP and peer||Son of Barnett Janner, he co-founded the Holocaust Educational Trust and chaired the Board of Deputies of British Jews from 1978 to 1984.|||
|Dudley Joel||1904–1941||Businessman, Conservative MP, World War II naval officer||With the outbreak of World War II, Joel joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and was killed in action on 28 May 1941 when the steam merchant HMS Registan was bombed by German aircraft off Cape Cornwall.|||
|James Armand de Rothschild||1878–1957||Liberal Party politician and philanthropist||Rothschild donated six million Israeli pounds towards the construction of the Knesset building in Jerusalem, which was completed in 1966. When he died in 1957, he bequeathed Waddesdon Manor (which he had inherited in 1922) to the National Trust.|||
|Lionel de Rothschild
Charlotte von Rothschild
|Banker, politician and philanthropist
|Lionel de Rothschild was the first practising Jew to sit as a Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom. Charlotte, his German-born first cousin, was a member of the Rothschild banking family of Naples. They married two days after her seventeenth birthday. Charlotte Freifrau de Rothschild became one of England's most prominent socialites; her dinner invitations, according to biographer Stanley Weintraub, were favoured over those from Buckingham Palace. In an era when male and female roles were clearly defined, Charlotte had been better educated in art than her husband and was instrumental in their art assemblage.|||
|Lionel Nathan de Rothschild||1882–1942||Banker, Conservative MP and gardener||Describing himself as "a banker by hobby – a gardener by profession", he created Exbury Gardens by the New Forest in Hampshire. He also co-sponsored plant-hunting expeditions overseas to collect seed for plant growth and experimentation, developing 1,204 new hybrids of rhododendron and azalea.|||
|Nathan Mayer Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild||1840–1915||Banker, politician and philanthropist||The eldest son of Lionel de Rothschild and Charlotte von Rothschild, he became head of the London branch of the family bank, N M Rothschild & Sons, after his father's death in 1879. He was also a Liberal MP. In 1885, when he was raised to the peerage by Gladstone, Rothschild was the first Jewish member of the House of Lords not to have previously converted to Christianity. A noted philanthropist, he was heavily involved with the foundation of the Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company, a model dwellings company whose aim was to provide decent housing, predominantly for the Jews of Spitalfields and Whitechapel. He also served as a trustee of the London Mosque Fund until his death.|||
|Lionel Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild||1868–1937||Banker, politician, zoologist and prominent Zionist leader||He was presented with the Balfour Declaration which pledged British support for a Jewish national home in Palestine, and was President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews from 1925 to 1926.|||
|Herbert Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel||1870–1963||Politician||Samuel, who was leader of the Liberal Party from 1931 to 1935, was the first nominally-practising Jew to serve as a Cabinet minister and to become the leader of a major British political party. He was also the last member of the Liberal Party to hold one of the four Great Offices of State (as Home Secretary from 1931 to 1932 in the National Government of Ramsay MacDonald). He also served as a diplomat, and became High Commissioner of Palestine.|||
|Sir Julius Vogel||1835–1899||Prime Minister of New Zealand||New Zealand's first Jewish Prime Minister (two other New Zealanders of Jewish descent have held the premiership), Vogel was also the first New Zealander to write a science-fiction novel. Anno Domini 2000, or, Woman's Destiny, published in 1889, anticipated a utopian world where women held many positions of authority. Four years later, and six years before Vogel died, New Zealand became the first country to give women the vote.|||
|Hermann Adler||1839–1911||Rabbi||Adler was born in Hanover, Germany. He was the second son of Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler (see below) and succeeded him as Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, a post he held from 1891 to 1911.|||
|Michael Adler||1868–1944||Rabbi, Anglo-Jewish historian and author||Michael Adler, who was not related to the family of chief rabbis, was the first Jewish military chaplain to the British Army to serve in time of war, serving with the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front during the First World War from 1915 to 1918. He was responsible for the Magen David, instead of the traditional Cross, being carved on the headstones of Jewish soldiers who died in wartime.|||
|Nathan Marcus Adler||1803–1890||Rabbi||Born in Hanover, in present-day Germany, he became Chief Rabbi of the City of Hanover. From 1844 to 1890 he was Chief Rabbi of the British Empire. He was instrumental in bringing together the United Synagogue, established by Act of Parliament in 1870, and was a founder of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.|||
|Sir Israel Brodie||1895–1979||Rabbi||Brodie was Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth 1948–1965. He founded and led the Conference of European Rabbis. In 1969, after he had retired, he was knighted "for services to British Jewry", the first Chief Rabbi to receive this honour.|||
|Sir Hermann Gollancz||1852–1930||Rabbi and Hebrew scholar||Gollancz, who was born in Bremen, Germany, was the first Jew to earn a doctorate of literature from London University and the first holder of the degree to be ordained as a rabbi. In 1923, he was the first British rabbi to be given a knighthood.|||
|Joseph Hertz||1872–1946||Rabbi and biblical scholar||Hertz, who was born in what is now Slovakia, was Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom from 1913 until his death in 1946, in a period encompassing both world wars and the Holocaust. He also edited a notable commentary on the Torah (1929–36, one-volume edition 1937). Popularly known as the Hertz Chumash, this classic Hebrew-English edition of the Five Books of Moses, with corresponding Haftorahs, is used in many synagogues and classrooms throughout the English-speaking world.|||
|Simeon Singer||1846–1906||Rabbi, preacher, lecturer and public worker||He is best known for his English translation of the Siddur, the standard prayer book used in British and Commonwealth synagogues, informally known as the "Singer's Siddur".|||
|David Lindo Alexander||1842–1922||Barrister and Jewish communal leader||Alexander, who was President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, later co-founded the anti-Zionist League of British Jews. He is buried next to his wife Hester.|||
|Barney Barnato (born Barnet Isaacs)||1852–1897||Diamond and gold-mining entrepreneur||The son of a second-hand clothes dealer in Spitalfields, he went to South Africa as a young man to seek his fortune.|||
|Sir Charles Clore||1904–1979||Financier, retail and property magnate and philanthropist||The son of a Whitechapel tailor, Charles Clore owned, through Sears Holdings, the British Shoe Corporation and Lewis's department stores (which included Selfridges), as well as investing heavily in property. His philanthropic trust, the Clore Foundation, is a donor to arts and Jewish community projects in Britain and abroad. The Clore Gallery at Tate Britain, which houses the world's largest collection of the works of J.M.W. Turner, was built in 1980–87 with £6 million from Clore and his daughter and £1.8 million from the British government.|||
|Edgar Israel Cohen||1853–1933||Businessman||Cohen was a sponge and cigar merchant, who later became involved with retail, entertainment, and popularised the motorised London taxicab. He was associated with the flotation of several family owned businesses of the period including Harrods departmental store. A close friend of the British-American socialite, actress and producer Lillie Langtry, he provided funding for her theatrical ventures.|||
|Jack Cohen||1898–1979||Grocer and entrepreneur||Cohen was the founder of Tesco supermarkets.|||
|Joseph Joel Duveen||1843–1908||Art dealer and benefactor of art galleries||Duveen was born in Meppel in the Netherlands. He and his brother Henry were art dealers, securing the chief American trade in Oriental porcelain. They helped in the formation of many significant art collections in the United States and took an important share in the fine art trade in London, extending their interests in old tapestry, of which they became the largest purchasers. Joseph Duveen became wealthy, and was generous in benefaction of art galleries. In 1908 he undertook the cost of an extension to the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) that allowed its paintings by J. M. W. Turner to be displayed, and was called the Turner Wing.|||
|Joseph Duveen, 1st Baron Duveen||1869–1939||Art dealer||The eldest son of Joseph Joel Duveen, he greatly increased the trade in bringing great works of art from Europe to America, playing a large part in forming many of the collections that are now in American museums.|||
|Sir Barrow Helbert Ellis||1823–1887||Anglo-Indian civil servant||Ellis held several prominent posts in India during the time of British colonial rule. The Ellis Bridge in Ahmedabad, Gujarat was named after him.|||
|Isidore Gluckstein||1851–1920||Businessman||He was a director of Salmon & Gluckstein tobacco merchants, and one of the founders of J. Lyons and Co.|||
|Catherine Gasquoine Hartley||1866/7–1928||Writer, art historian and headmistress||Hartley was a writer and art historian with a particular expertise on Spanish art. After her divorce from the writer and journalist Walter M. Gallichan, she wrote about polygamy, motherhood and sex education.|||
|Sir Samuel Instone||1878–1937||Shipping and aviation entrepreneur||He and his brother Alfred founded the pioneering Instone Air Line.|||
|Jim Joel||1895–1992||Businessman and racehorse owner||Joel was a great-nephew of Barney Barnato (see above) and a director of De Beers diamond company.|||
|Sir Emmanuel Kaye||1914–1999||Industrialist and philanthropist||Born in Russia, Kaye was founder and chairman of the Kaye Organisation and joint-founder of Lansing Bagnall Ltd, which manufactured electric lift trucks; he was also founder and chairman of the Thrombosis Research Institute. He is buried alongside his wife, Lady (Elizabeth) Kaye (née Cutler; 1925–2012).|||
|Sir Joseph Lyons||1847–1917||Caterer||He was the founder of J. Lyons and Co., a restaurant chain, food manufacturing and hotel conglomerate created in 1884 that dominated British mass-catering in the first half of the twentieth century.|||
|Otto Metzger||1885–1961||Engineer and inventor||Metzger, who grew up in Nuremberg, Germany, was an engineer and inventor of an impact-extrusion process for forming seamless zinc and brass cans.|||
|Sir Eric Merton Miller||1926–1977||Businessman||Miller, an associate of Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, committed suicide while under investigation for fraud, shooting himself in the head on Yom Kippur.|||
|Louis Montagu, 2nd Baron Swaythling||1869–1927||Financier, farmer and political activist||He became head of the family banking business and was president of the Federation of Synagogues. An active anti-Zionist, he opposed the Balfour Declaration.|||
|Sir Matthew Nathan||1862–1939||Soldier and colonial administrator||Nathan was Governor of Hong Kong|||
|Alfred Charles de Rothschild||1842–1918||Banker||He was the first Jew to be a director of the Bank of England.|||
|Sir Anthony de Rothschild, 1st Baronet||1810–1876||Financier||The United Synagogue's first president when it was formed in 1870, he was extensively involved with the financing of European railways.|||
|Charles Rothschild||1877–1923||Banker and entomologist||Charles Rothschild was regarded as a pioneer of nature conservation in Britain, and is credited with establishing the UK's first nature reserve after buying Wicken Fen, near Ely, in 1899.|||
|Leopold de Rothschild||1845–1917||Banker and race horse breeder||He became head of the London branch of N M Rothschild when his uncle, Baron Mayer de Rothschild, died in 1874.|||
|Sarah Rachel Russell or Leverson or Levison, best known as "Madame Rachel"||c.1814–1880||Criminal, blackmailer and con artist||Born to a Jewish theatrical family in London, a cousin of the musician Henry Russell, she was twice married and later lived with, and took the surname of, Philip Levison. She worked as a clothes dealer and later sold cosmetics and toilet requisites which she claimed would guarantee their users everlasting youth. Using her salon as a front, she was able to blackmail many of her wealthy and prominent members of London's social elite. She was convicted for fraud in 1868, serving four years in prison, and was sentenced to further imprisonment in 1878, dying in Woking prison. Her grave is hard to find, and does not have a headstone.|||
Redcliffe N. Salaman
|Poet, translator, and social activist
Botanist and potato breeder
|Nina Salaman is best known for her English translations of medieval Hebrew poetry, especially of the poems of Judah Halevi. The Chief Rabbi officiated at her funeral and delivered a eulogy, customarily forbidden on Rosh Hodesh except at the funeral of an eminent scholar.
Redcliffe Salaman's landmark work was the 1949 book on the History and Social influence of the Potato, which established the history of nutrients as a new literary genre.
|Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted||1853–1927||Banker and businessman||A founder of Shell Oil Co., he was elected Lord Mayor of London in 1902|||
|Sir Michael Sobell||1892–1993||Businessman, philanthropist and racehorse breeder||Born in Boryslav, Galicia, Sobell manufactured radio receivers. His company became one of Britain's largest manufacturers of TV sets, subsequently merging with The General Electric Company plc (GEC). He was also a very successful owner and breeder of thoroughbred racehorses. He set up the Sobell Foundation which supported many causes, including medical, educational, and fitness endeavours. Sobell died age 100 and bequeathed most of his fortune to his charitable foundation.|||
|Sir Bernard Nathaniel Waley-Cohen, 1st Baronet||1914–1991||Businessman||He was the 633rd Lord Mayor of London, elected in 1960|||
|Michael Winner||1935–2013||Film director, restaurant critic||His grave has the inscription "NEVER A LOSER BE, ONLY A WINNER HE".|||
War graves and memorial
The cemetery has 33 Commonwealth service war graves from World War I, six of which form a small group by the Assembly Hall, 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. 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. The first national Jewish war memorial in the UK, it is Grade II listed.
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- Historic England. "War Memorial, Willesden Jewish Cemetery (1449842)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 May 2019.