...it's our town

Listed Buildings
of Ipswich St Margaret's Church (Grade I)

Newsletter, October 2008 (Issue 173)

The Jewish Cemetery

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.

    Front cover of issue 173 Cover, issue 173

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