‘Why is it in such a state?’
A JC reader has described a scene of “utter abandonment and desecration” at the Bancroft Road cemetery in Mile End, East London.
Dating back to 1811, the cemetery was originally used to bury Covent Garden market-traders. It was owned by Maiden Lane Synagogue, which closed at the beginning of the 20th century.
Susanna Clapham discovered the cemeterybychancewhileinvestigating her family history. She was disappointed to find dozens of smashed graves and overgrown weeds.
“Ican’tunderstandwhyit’sinsuch a terrible state,” she said. “In this day and age it just seems so wrong. It’s not just the cemetery but other sites around here where Jewish people lived. It’s important to preserve that heritage.”
In 1940, the Board of Deputies agreed to transfer ownership of a house on the site to the United Synagogue on the basis that the US would thenmaintainthegroundsfor£5per year. That agreement still stands.
Board of Deputies chief executive Jon Benjamin maintained that the cemetery “is by no means a rubbish dump.Iwrotealetterlastweektothe US reminding them about the 1940 agreement. What we must ensure is that there’s no dumping of rubbish, people are not breaking in and that there is sufficient security.”
A US spokeswoman said i t s representatives visited the cemetery regularly.