Cemetery shows off its celebrity resting places

By Jessica Elgot, March 8, 2012

One of the UK's oldest Jewish cemeteries is to offer tours featuring the resting places of well-known musicians, actors, writers, politicians and rabbis.

Cellist Jacqueline du Pre, rabbis Leo Baeck and Hugo Gryn, Barmitzvah Boy playwright Jack Rosenthal, agony aunt Marjorie Proops, actor Sydney Tafler and songwriter Jack Fishman are all buried in Hoop Lane Cemetery, Golders Green, which is administered by the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation and West London Synagogue.

Cemetery director Paul Van der Hulks believed those taking the tour would be "interested in different things. We have the famous and the infamous. One example is Leslie Hore-Belisha, who not only gave us the beacon named after him, but introduced the 30mph speed limit and the driving test.

"One of the most interesting is Titanic survivor Adolphe Saalfeld, who was en route to New York in the hope of selling his perfume scents. He left Southampton in April 1912 with a suitcase of bottles. His perfumes were not raised from the sunken ship until 80 years later."

Mr Van der Hulks added that the graves themselves could be fascinating. "The older ones are huge, like a mausoleum. But they were just for ordinary people who decided, for whatever reason, that it was what they wanted to spend their money on.

"There's a real renewed interest in genealogy at the moment and I think that has sparked interest in cemeteries in general."

Tours will begin by the end of the month, with visitors guided by a brochure of more than 50 interesting grave sites. Although the cemetery is not charging for the tours, it will "encourage donations" and hopes to form a Friends of Hoop Lane group. A gala dinner is already in the planning stage for 2017, when the cemetery marks its 120th anniversary.

Last updated: 7:42pm, March 8 2012