History - Lauriston Road Jewish Cemetery
With kind permission of Marcus Roberts Jtrails.org.uk© Marcus Roberts, www.jtrails.org.uk
The Lauriston Road Cemetery is an old and unexpected Jewish feature of the Hackney Landscape. Set alongside and back from Lauriston Road the cemetery presents a frontage that could well be that of a prosperous Christian Victorian cemetery. The cemetery is eminently open to view through brick walls topped with large railings and there is a large iron gate way. Off to one side is a once neat cemetery keeper’s house.
Within there is a large of range of tombstones and memorials in view. The central ones are imposing, rather over-tall monuments, such as could befit any opulent Victorian magnate or merchant ostentatious in their final repose. It is only on seeing the Hebrew of the tombstone inscriptions that suddenly one realises that this is, after all, a Jewish cemetery.
The model however is one that suggests a congregation and community much more at ease middle-class and acculturated than elsewhere.
The cemetery was founded in 1788 by the break-away Hambro' Synagogue and closed in 1886. When it was founded it was alone in its immediate landscape - it was a site surrounded by open fields at the end of a track. The housing and development seen today came after the cemetery and thus in a sense the cemetery crystallized local urban development.
Within the cemetery are some unusual double tombstones. Quite a number of tombstones declare the life-addresses of those they commemorate. One Lewis Joseph Cohen (d.1868) is noted "of Clifton Gardens, Maida Hill and of New York U.S.A."
On this theme a number of tombs in the very center are clustered around and almost certainly represent the cemetery founders and relations. This section included an obelisk and two tall tombs with large funereal urns on top. One of the central clusters, to Eliza Anne Jones, emanates from "9 Quality Court Chancery Lane".
Other tombstones bear the maxim "lovers of justice and peace". While there are many bi-lingual tombstones many are more traditional and in Hebrew only.
One other interesting feature of the cemetery is evidence of an ohel at the entrance on the opposite side to the cemetery keeper’s house. Various bricked up windows and structures preserved in the wall suggest the side of the ohel.