South-West community leaders have launched an appeal to save the 200-year-old Jewish burial ground in Bath.
The Greendown Place area was created to serve the small Bath community in 1812 but later abandoned as members moved to Bristol in the early 1900s. The unkempt site has been renovated by the Friends of the burial ground, which has 150 supporters, and the Combe Down Heritage Group.
“The site was completely overgrown — solid with bushes and brambles,” explained Friends chairman Alex Schlesinger. “We began appealing to charities and individuals and raised more than £8,000 for restoration work to repair the roof of the prayer house.”
Group members discovered 38 gravestones and other unmarked graves.
The Bristol Hebrew Congregation member estimated that up to £40,000 was needed for full restoration of the site, including Georgian benches and surrounding fence.
“It will no longer function as a cemetery but we hope to deliver research on people who were buried here and encourage people to visit this site of Jewish history.” Mr Schlesinger added that there were no records on the abandoned cemetery. “The Board of Deputies didn’t know they owned the property until 30 years ago. They now have the deed.”