|GREAT YARMOUTH , Norfolk|
International Jewish Cemetery Project - England
For Community Information, see Great Yarmouth on JCR-UK.
Colbys Gate, Alma Road, Blackfriars Road, on the perimeter of old city walls: The first Jewish Cemetery in Great Yarmouth was situated on a plot of land beneath the old town wall at Colby's Gate, junction of Alma Road and Blackfriars Road. Measuring approximately 13 yards x 6 yards, it now stands several feet below the current street level and is guarded on the short side by a locked gate, with slatted viewing panel. A 5-foot wall protects the longer side, from which a clear view of the front row of stones can be seen. Those of shorter stature can stand on one of the street benches, conveniently fixed to the pavement parallel to the wall. At the time of our visit (September 1996), the site was well maintained although some rubbish-either blown in, or deposited intentionally-was not of a quantity to suggest that the site is not regularly cleared.
A local newspaper article dated September 1928 reported as follows: "...... Next the walls are Hastings' Buildings, belonging in the 5O's to the Bros. Hastings, the well-known boat builders. Fronting these cottages was a large open yard, paved with cobblestones. This was known as Stone Yard. Opposite, upon the south side, beneath the Town Wall, is a Jew's Cemetery measuring north to south 52 feet 6 ins. by 18 feet, containing 18 graves in two rows. Time and the weather has dealt harshly with the tombstones, only four being decipherable, i.e.: JOEL ISAACS, aged 98 years, who died December 6th, 1846; RACHAEL wife of the above-named, aged 82 years who died April 29th, 1846. One in memory of SARAH MAYERS and to MATILDA wife of HIRSCH SPIERS 14th July 1846, aged 87 years. The Isaacs family one hundred years ago were well-known fruiterers of Market and Broad Rows and the Mayers family were jewelers and corn millers, owning a mill upon the North Denes. All the stones are inscribed first with Hebraic symbols and lettering. I was hopeful of locating the grave of Simon Hart, who in 1801 secured from the Corporation this site outside Colby's Gate as Burial Ground for the Jews. On one stone could be traced the date 1663. Only one stone was enriched by a cherubim and foliage. The west boundary is a partition of the Town Wall some 18 feet in height, and in an excellent state of preservation."
In another article dated 1967, we learn that slum clearance had only recently exposed the cemetery to more public view. ".....(the cemetery) is referred to in the Town's Assembly Book, the record of the town's Assembly which was the forerunner of the Town Council. An entry for April 7th 1801, "Grant to Jews" says: "Upon the petition of Simon Hart on behalf of the Jews of this town, and the report of the Committee of Liberties, it is ordered that they may enclose a piece of ground next to the town wall near Mr. Colby's gates for a burial ground (late used by Mr. Shelly as a place to lay masts and surrendered by him. The piece of ground was leased at an annual rent of 10s. 6d. Palmer's Perlustrations records that Mr. Hart, a silversmith, died the following year and that the right of Jews to have their own burial ground had been established by an order of Henry II....." The site today is much as described above, with the inscriptions on the four graves mentioned clearly visible from the road. Regrettably, we omitted to count the total number of stones still standing, but would guess it to be around the original number as counted in 1928. Source: Jeffery Shire, Oct 1996;
Keys from Department of Technical Services, Great Yarmouth Town Hall. Among the disused cemeteries administered by the Board of Deputies of British Jews - general enquiries to the Board's Community Issues Division (see above). [Jewish Year Book 2005]
Kitchener, Belvedere Road: (complete) The cemetery is located within a larger cemetery complex operated by the Town Council and used by several different Christian denominations. Separated from them by a high stone wall, it is entered through an equally high wooden gate that is kept locked. Entry can be obtained through the Cemetery Office at the Town Hall (first door to the right as you enter under the clock.) Although we gave no prior warning of our intended visit, the Council official concerned was extremely helpful and was able to arrange a visit later that same afternoon. Before opening the gate, the Cemetery attendant apologized for the 'vandalism' which, he said, was being dealt with and which, he hastened to reassure us, was slight. We are happy to report that this was indeed the case: no stones had been damaged; there was no graffiti; and the incursion was clearly not anti-Semitic in origin -- the adjacent Christian sections having, apparently, suffered far greater depredations. It was very clear, both from the overall state of the grounds, and the courteous and helpful attitude of both the Council Official and the Cemetery attendant, that they take their custodial duties very seriously.
The following extract from C.J. Palmer's 'Perlustration of Great Yarmouth' published at the turn of the century is still a pretty fair description. "... In 1854 an Act was passed which prohibited burials in churches, and closed such churchyards as were in cities and towns and already filled with the dead. In 1855, the town council appropriated ten acres of ground adjoining the churchyard for the purposes of a cemetery, and surrounded the same with a high wall of flint. The northern half of the ground was appropriated to the use of Nonconformists, the north-west corner being divided from it by a high wall and given to the Jews"..."Previous to 1177 no Jew could be buried in London; but in that year Henry II ordered a place for this purpose to be provided in every town where any Israelites dwelt. Where persons of this persuasion were buried at Yarmouth prior to the commencement of the present century is not known; but in 1801 Simon Hart, a silversmith and 'a very respectable Jew' who had resided in the town for forty years, obtained from the corporation a grant of a piece of ground outside the town wall 'near Colby's Gate' as a burial place for the Jews; and here in the following year Hart was buried, aged 56. With the Jews, no more than one corpse is ever laid in the same grave. A little earth, from Jerusalem, if it can be procured, is placed in the coffin, affording another likeness between the practices of Jews and Christians. On their 'black feast,' which is to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews are accustomed to visit their burial place; which, although always neatly kept, is never opened, except for funerals, at any other time." Because of the last-minute nature of our visit, we were limited for time, but were able to note the basic (English) details, with the exception of one fallen 'pillar' style monument, of all the stones still standing. source: Jeffery Shire, Oct. 1996;
Caister-Oormsby Road Municipal Cemetery (complete): The most recent burial ground can be found at Caister-on-Sea, which is more or less a continuation of Great Yarmouth, to the north. It lies within the main Council cemetery on Ormesby Road, separated by a high privet hedge. Cars may be taken right into the cemetery grounds, but the actual site is only a few hundred yards from the main gate. Turn sharp right on entering and follow the path immediately parallel with the road. The area is peaceful and well maintained. Source: Jeffery Shire, Oct 1996;