The Society was pleased to hear from IBC that the Department of Culture,
Media and Sport has Listed (Grade II) the boundary walls of this little
known but historically important site. The walls enclosing the burial
ground on four sides were built c1764 and survive essentially intact.
Other reasons given by the DCMS for Listing are that this is 'an
important reminder of the existence of a Jewish community' and 'there is
a special historic interest in the continuous settlement in England of
this oldest non-Christian minority group and the tolerance afforded to
it by the local population.'
The DCMS schedule outlines the history of Jews in Ipswich. There was a
community in the Middle Ages but Edward I expelled the Jews from England
in 1290. At Cromwell's invitation Jews returned in 1656 and settled in
London. By 1750 Ipswich had an established Jewish population,
worshipping in a rented room. They built a synagogue in Rope Lane (now
Rope Walk) and acquired the land, already enclosed by these walls, in
1796. But the population declined in the 19th century, the burial ground
was closed in 1855 and the disused synagogue pulled down in 1877. The
Jewish Board of Deputies took over responsibility for the site and,
after WW II, BOCM Pauls maintained the site for the Board of Deputies,
although no maintenance has been carried out recently.
The burial ground contains 36 tombstones arranged in seven rows largely
chronologically. They have inscriptions in Hebrew or some in Hebrew and
English. The earliest dated tombstone is 1797/8 (Jewish year 5558). Some
inscriptions are no longer legible because of weathering.