Alderney Road Cemetery

Yesterday I passed the door to the old Jewish cemetery on Alderney Road which is forever locked and happened to spot a small notice which said that it would be open today between the hours of 11.30 and 3.   

Indeed, it was, through the door, two quite substantial spaces, larger than expected, with an air of melancholy neglect.   It is said to have first opened in 1696 for the burial of Ashkenazi Jews – those who came from Germany and Eastern Europe, escaping persecution.   They were granted freedom of worship in England by Cromwell in 1656 and established a synagogue in Duke’s Place in about 1690 (dates differ) just south of Aldgate (the adjacent street is Jewry Street).   

The cemetery has a special place to readers of W.G.Sebald, who in Austerlitz described how ‘there was a plot where lime trees and lilacs grew and in which members of the Ashkenazi community had been buried…In the bright spring light, shining through the newly opened leaves of the lime trees, you might have thought, Austerlitz told me, that you had entered a fairy tale which, like life itself, had grown older with the passing of time’:-


6 thoughts on “Alderney Road Cemetery

  1. Martin Hopkinson says:

    Is anybody looking after the cemetery ? It seemed to be sadly neglected and getting in worse and worse repair in my 8 years or so in Whitechapel

  2. Tony Valsamidis says:

    Just about to pass the entrance to the cemetery today, I remarked that the door was open sometimes. And so it proved. My companions and I wandered about this peaceful place and had a chat with the friendly chap working there. A tree had fallen down in the recent storms. Really a magical place.

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