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Portsmouth Jewry - 1730's to 1980's
Burial Grounds
Dr Aubrey Weinberg (1985)


It has already been noted that the Fawcett Road burial ground first came into the possession of the congregation in 1749 when it occupied a spot in Lazy Lane. In 1800, a further piece of land, adjoining that of the original, was granted under a 1,000 year lease, with further pieces being added in 1844 and 1882. In the latter year the congregation was finding it difficult to raise funds from its members so a general appeal for funds was made through the Jewish national press. A letter was even sent to Capt. L. Goldsmith, in South Africa, who had been born in Portsmouth, asking him to use his influence with friends in that country to secure contributions towards the cost of building a new mortuary hall and extending the burial ground. Eventually, however, it was Alderman E. Emanuel who met the costs of a caretaker’s lodge at the burial ground, with A.L. Emanuel providing the pair of iron gates facing on to the mortuary hall.

When the Fawcett Road area became engulfed in Portsmouth’s rapid urban development during the Victorian era, Jews’s Lane, as Lazy Lane had become known, no longer afforded the space required for the congregation’s burial requirements. The need for an alternative site became pressing. Fortunately the activities of the synagogue secessionists had paved the way for a new location even though the original grant of land at Kingston, in 1855, had been sold back to the Corporation in 1879. The ‘Burial Scandal’, already referred to, was associated with a new grant of land at New Road cemetery, and this land subsequently came into use by the Queen Street congregation in 1897. In 1904, the congregation gratefully sent their thanks to the Mayor and Corporation for voting 300 for the purpose of building a mortuary chapel, at New Road, for the special use of the congregation. The chapel was opened in 1906.

The Fawcett Road burial ground has provided a continuous resting place throughout the history of Portsmouth Jewry although, unfortunately, no early records of grave places have been maintained. Many of the early grave stones are indecipherable although Roth mas able to identify one dating back to 1763.1146] He surmised that earlier grave markers might have carried no inscription using to the absence of a stone mason ahie to engrave in Hebres 1ettering. In 1961 it aas agreed to demolish the caretakers lodge to make room for additional burial plots, for, mith the cemetery almost full, a caretaker mas no longer in residence. Roth had also remarked upon the Portsmouth practice of inscribing gravemarkers in Hebrem at the front and in English at the rear.

With the Nem Road burial ground, in its turn, becoming rapidly full, the congregation has been obliged to establish a further burial site outside of the Ciity at Catherington.