|Sephardi Nuevo (New) Cemetery *||Tower Hamlets|
* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens
The Spanish and Portuguese Jews' New Burial Ground opened 1733, and was extended eastwards in 1855 and eventually closed for burial in 1888. Parts of the wall have been lowered but the western boundary wall was built in 1733 and a large part of the C19th extended area survives within QMC and Westfield College. Spanish and Portuguese Jews came to this country fleeing from religious persecution and established themselves in Mile End in 1656. The Sephardi Velho (Old) Cemetery had opened in 1657, closing in 1737 when it was full and the new cemetery was open. The cemetery was listed by EH in 2014.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2014
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Sephardi Nuevo (New) Cemetery, September 2011. Photo: S Williams
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Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list
The Spanish and Portuguese Jews came to this country fleeing from religious persecution in Spain and Portugal and set up 'Sha'ar Hashamayim' (The Gate of Heaven) in Mile End in 1656. The Sephardi Velho (Old) Cemetery (q.v.) opened in 1657 and was the first Jewish cemetery to be established with Oliver Cromwell's approval, following his re-admission of the Jews to England. As the Sephardi Velho was becoming full in the 1730s, the Nuevo (New) Burial Ground was opened in 1733. Both Sephardi Cemeteries are shown on John Roque’s Map of 1746 either side of Bancrofts Hospital. By 1724 arrangements had already been made for purchase of a new burial site on what had been until then ‘The Cherry Tree’ or ‘Hardy’s Garden’ (shown on Joel Gascoyne’s Survey of Stepney, 1703). It was purchased by two merchants, Gabriel Lopes and Joseph da Costa and until it was needed for burial it remained an orchard with cherry, apple and pear trees. The burial ground was surrounded by a wall and formerly had a mortuary building, which was demolished in 1922. A plaque, previously installed in the mortuary, gives details of the first burial in 1733 and now stands between the College’s maintenance offices and the restricted area of the burial ground.
Over 7,000 burials, accounting for almost all of the Anglo Sephardim, took place here, and included Diego Pereira later Baron Aguiler, political adviser to Maria Theresa of Austria; financier Sampson Gideon, Benjamin D'Israeli (1730-1816), grandfather of the Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, and Daniel Mendoza (1764-1836) the boxer, to whom a plaque was erected near Paradise Row Gardens (q.v.) in Bethnal Green. A new plaque celebrating Mendoza was unveiled in 2008 on a newly landscaped area on Queen Mary, University of London Campus (q.v.). In 1855 the cemetery was enlarged eastwards by the addition of a further piece of adjacent land and a tablet now in the restricted area east wall records this addition to the Nuevo burial ground. Parts of the wall have been lowered but the western boundary wall dates from 1733 and a large part of the extended area survives within QMC and Westfield College. It was used for burial until 1899, although a burial took place here in 1988. Eventually at the end of the C19th Golders Green Cemetery (q.v.) was opened. There was bomb damage to the wall separating the burial ground from Mile End Hospital on 6 July 1944 as a result of which 80 graves were destroyed and the remains had to be reinterred. A circular area near the centre of the cemetery marks where the bomb landed with a Star of David is laid out in paving around a pedestal commemorating the memorials that were lost in the bombing.
Queen Mary College had expressed an interest in using or acquiring the land since the late 1940s but at that time there was resistance to this. On 18 July 1973 Royal Assent was given to the Bill to enable the College to purchase the burial ground except for the restricted area which the College holds on a 999 year lease. A contract was signed with the London Necropolis Company Ltd for the disinterment and re-interment of some 7000 human remains buried up to c.1850. By October 1974 re-interment in a plot of land at Dytchleys (Brentwood?) was completed.
Only some 2,000 C19th and C20th graves remain in the remnant of the cemetery, which is located behind the college buildings, which now completely surround it. The cemetery has neatly laid-out rows of flat tombstones with gravel between them, with a footpath along the northern boundary, and trees along the boundary wall to the east. As part of building developments at the college in 2011/2 the perimeter of the cemetery was defined with new planting and fencing, and a raised paved terrace was constructed to the south of the burial ground, with a wider path with planters, low benches and a parapet of Corten steel panel connecting Westfield Way in the east with the college library to the west. The boundary wall survives here, although its upper part has been rebuilt; against it has been re-set the cemetery’s original foundation plaque of 1733, an upright Portland stone slab with scrolled sides and a Hebrew inscription. The west and north boundaries were also re-landscaped in 2011, with simple concrete planters and widely-spaced silver birches; another old tree stands just inside the western boundary.
Hugh Meller & Brian Parsons, 'London Cemeteries, An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer', 4th edition (The History Press, 2008); Mrs Basil Holmes, 'The London Burial Grounds' (Fisher Unwin, 1896); Tom Ridge, Central Stepney History Walk (Central Stepney Regeneration Board), 1998; ‘From Palace to College, an illustrated account of Queen Mary College’, G P Moss & M V Saville (published by QMC, 1985). Other refs quoted in QMC book: R D Barnett, ‘The Burial register of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, London, 1687-1735’; Jewish Historical Society, Miscellanies, 6 (1922) 1-72; A S Diamond, ‘The Cemetery of resettlement’, Jewish Historical Society, Transactions, 19 (1960), p163-190; Cemetery Scribes website, www.cemeteryscribes.com: 'History - the Old and New Spanish and Portuguese Cemeteries - off Mile End Road' courtesy Marcus Roberts www.jtrails.org.uk; Dr Sharman Kadish, 'Jewish Heritage in England' (English Heritage, 2006); Jessica Odubayo 'Jewish cemetery given English Heritage Award', East End Life, 21-27 April 2014.