Photographs by Robert Freidus. Text by Jacqueline Banerjee. Formatting and perspective correction by George P. Landow. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Cemetery buildings: the mourning hall with and ritual buildings on either side, Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery, Beaconsfield Road, Willesden, London Borough of Brent NW10 2JE. Architect: Nathan Solomon Joseph (1834-1909). Consecrated by the Chief Rabbi on 5 October 1873. Cemetery buildings: Gothic, from Kentish rag and Bath stone, with pointed slate roofs. The open loggia was added later, in 1920.

Other views of the ritual buildings. Interestingly, and rather surprisingly, the neo-Gothic style was adopted for Jewish cemeteries, possibly in a gesture towards the wider community that might attend the funerals. This was in contrast to the synagogues themselves, for which, in view of the close association of neo-Gothic with the Christian and particularly the established church, Saracenic or Romanesque styles were preferred — see, for example, Edward Salomons' Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Manchester (1873-74), or the New West End Synagogue (1882) in London itself, in which Joseph played a minor role (Kadish 58-59).

Left: The urn — a typical element of monumental sculpture. Right: War memorial for the Jewish servicemen and women of both world wars. On the whole, despite some graceful urns and other tasteful embellishments, the monuments here are rather plain (witness the war memorial). This might seem surprising too, since this is "the most prestigious among London's Jewish cemeteries" (Rutherford 34), the final resting place of some of the most distinguished and wealthy Jews in the land. However, "[t]o the Victorian Jews, the cemetery is clearly not the place for displays of statues and wealth," writes Joachim Jacobs (174). The war memorial itself was the first in the country to be erected to Jewish servicemen and women: a dignified obelisk, it stands opposite the graves of those who died fighting in World War II. It was the first public war memorial specifically to honour those Jewish people who died for this country (see Gillon).


Gillon, Geoffrey. "Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery." Find-a-Grave.. Web. 13 July 2013.

Jacobs, Joachim. Houses of Life: Jewish Cemeteries of Europe. London: Frances Lincoln, 2008. Print.

Kadish, Sharman. "The 'Cathedral Synagogues' of England." Jewish Historical Studies, Vol. 39 (2004): 45-77. Accessed via JSTOR. Web. 13 July 2013.

Pearson, Lynn F. Discovering Famous Graves. Princes Risborough: Shire, 1988. Print.

Rutherford, Sarah. The Victorian Cemetery. Botley, Oxford: Shire, 2008. Print.

Last modified 5 October 2014