Willesden Jewish Cemetery opens to the public with trails to explore and free events

PUBLISHED: 09:49 03 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:39 03 September 2020

Willesden Jewish Cemetery now a place to explore or relax. Picture: Michael Eleftheriades

Willesden Jewish Cemetery now a place to explore or relax. Picture: Michael Eleftheriades

Michael Eleftheriades

The Willesden Jewish Cemetery is to open for the public to enjoy after years of painstaking work to conserve the site.

Trails in Willesden Jewish Cemetery. Picture: Michael EleftheriadesTrails in Willesden Jewish Cemetery. Picture: Michael Eleftheriades

From September 7 the still active Jewish cemetery in Beaconsfield Road will invite visitors to discover the lives of people buried there and to explore the customs and history of London’s Jewish community.

Thanks to £1.7 million funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and donations, a new ‘House of Life’ visitor experience has been established with trails to trample and events which are free to attend.

Throughout the launch week established and prize winning authors including Howard Jacobson, Neasden’s Guy Gunaratne and South Kilburn-born Gabriel Krauze, will explore different types of writing on zoom.

Very recently staff introduced a regular Death Café, a non-judgmental space to explore the topic of death.

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READ MORE: Proposals to open up Jewish cemetery as a heritage site

Hester Abrams, “House of Life” project leader and curator at Willesden Jewish Cemetery, said: “Whether you live locally or come from further away, the new ‘House of Life’ heritage experience puts Willesden Jewish Cemetery on the map as a new place to come to explore, learn and reflect on the lives of a minority community and your own life experiences.

“Everyone will find a story that they can relate to.

“By careful conservation of buildings, memorials and the landscape, we’ve retained the site’s poignant atmosphere and slowed the effects of time.

“Our new displays are a result of a massive research effort by staff, volunteers, families and the public. They make visible hundreds of stories that would otherwise have been lost to history, which we can now share with the world.”

Willesden Cemetery was opened as a burial ground for the Jews by permission of the Home Office in 1873.

Its 21 acres is home to more than 26,000 graves making it one of the largest historic Jewish cemeteries in the UK with a number of high profile souls including scientist Rosalind Franklin and designer Kurt Geiger – as well as thousands of people whose stories are yet to be discovered.

The orthodox cemetery, owned and managed by the United Synagogue, is the only Jewish cemetery on England’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic .


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