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Jewish cemetery given Grade II listed status

Willesden Jewish Cemetery contains graves of founder of Tesco and UK’s first Jewish MP

    Willesden Jewish Cemetery (Chris Redgrave/Historic England)
    Willesden Jewish Cemetery (Chris Redgrave/Historic England)

    Gothic-style buildings at the Willesden Jewish Cemetery have been given protected status as the 70th anniversary of the listed building system was marked.

    The United Synagogue welcomed the news that the north-west London site has been given Grade II status alongside five other historical buildings across the UK.

    David Kaplan, the US director responsible for burial, David Kaplan said: “I’m delighted that our beautiful Willesden Cemetery has received this recognition from Historic England.

    “Willesden Cemetery contains many significant figures and a wealth of history which is now protected and as a result will ensure that we can continue to showcase the Jewish contribution to British society for generations to come.”

    People buried at Willesden, which was opened in 1873, include Sir Julius Vogel, who was prime minister of New Zealand in 1876, and Rosalind Franklin, who helped discover DNA.

    Lionel de Rothschild, one of the first Jewish MPs, Hannah Rosebery, once the world’s richest woman, and Jack Cohen, founder of Tesco’s, are among other notable figures buried there.

    Two years ago, the US, which runs the cemetery,  was given £320,000 to cover restoration costs at the Victorian Jewish landmark.

    Historic England, who advised the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the latest announcement,  said the buildings at Willesden was a rare example of the gothic revival style, "as many similar complexes in England's Jewish cemeteries have been lost".

    It said: "Each building plays a specific role in Jewish burial practice, from the central Prayer Hall where the coffin is received, to the Cohanim Room which was used only for those believed to be descended from the High Priest Aaron."

    Protected status was first started as an emergency “salvage list” to protect significant places and buildings during post-war reconstruction. 

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