In September 2015, two significant events took place involving both the NLJC and the NHC.
Cleaning up the chapel of the Earlham Jewish cemetery
The first event in September took place when members of both communities, including your Burial Group members (Sarah and Miriam), met at the Earlham Road cemetery to clean up the chapel. The chapel and grounds are available to both communities for funerals and burials.
The burial grounds are peaceful and not unattractive, but the chapel, where the service is held, has always seemed dismal and uninviting. When we arrived it was grubby, festooned inside and out with cobwebs and grime: an hour or so later it was dusted, swept, and mopped and looked and felt a lot better.
Not only did we all do a good and worthwhile job but the occasion served to forge and strengthen links and bonds between ourselves and the Earlham Road community.
Visit to the old Jewish cemetery
The Burial Group likes visiting cemeteries, out of personal interest and in the interests of our members, to report and inform. After the above occasion we thought it was time for a visit to the other, older, Jewish cemetery, which is to be found on the inner ring road, near the Duke Street roundabout, next to a small throughway called Quaker Lane. It belongs to the NHC, who hold the key and we went along with Marion Prinsley one morning in September to have a look. Coincidentally NHC member, Michael Woolfe was there that day, working to tidy the space. It is very small and has been sadly neglected, see below.
The state of the cemetery has been highlighted in a website called Cemetery Scribes, see this link: http://cemeteryscribes.com/blog/quakers-lane-jews-burial-ground-in-need-of-help/. This is an interesting article, with more detail and historical information than there is space for here. They have since reported an improvement but there is room for more.
Michael, Marion and Sarah put their heads together.
Michael told us that last year an Orthodox group from London, dedicated to the upkeep of old cemeteries such as this one, came along and cut down the weeds and brambles, but unfortunately did not clear them away. Now Michael is trying to manage the space but it is not an easy task for one person. While there we spoke together about planning another joint effort between the communities – a Mitzvah Day to clear up and beautify the cemetery – to take place later this year (2016). Both communities are willing, so watch this space.
While in this intriguing area of old Norwich, known as Gildencroft, we took the opportunity to explore a bit more. We discovered the row of ancient houses called Gildencroft, tucked away just off St Augustines Street. Nearby there is the walled Quaker cemetery, which is large and tree-filled and is clearly managed for wildlife protection, with natural grassy paths among the old and newer grave stones (it is still in use).
Maybe between us we can create just such a little haven in our own space.
Miriam Barnett & Sarah Boosey
We’re available if you’d like to talk through any issues relating to end of life and funerals.