The Bath Jewish Burial Ground is one of many religious sites which developed in the Georgian era as visitors to Bath, and the local community which served them, increased in number. This cemetery was established outside the City in the suburb village of Combe Down; the site is on Bradford Road.
The Friends of Bath Jewish Burial Ground was set up in 2005 by the Combe Down Heritage Society and the Bath Jewish Community. It aims to restore the site for public access and as an educational resource.
The burial ground has been neglected and is very overgrown. The Prayer House is becoming dilapidated and will be increasingly difficult to recover if some restoration is not carried out soon.
Local Heritage Society members, working with the local Jewish community and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, made a start on clearing the considerable undergrowth, repairing the wall & surveying the site.
2006 was the 350th anniversary of Oliver Cromwell's decision to allow Jews to return to England, though there is evidence that communities were already established in some of the major cities, including Bristol. This was therefore an appropriate year to launch the initiative.
Two events were held in the autumn. In September, guests from many organisation that might have an interest, particularly the B&NES Council, were invited to a celebration. There was a small exhibition, set up by the Combe Down Heritage Society, on the history and state of the site and several of the 'Friends' Committee gave further information on the background, organisation and future of the project. In October, as part of Bath Open Week, the Burial Ground was manned for five hours when a suprising number, over 250 people, attended. Some visitors came from London and Gloucestershire and important new facts about the site were gleaned.
Visitors on the Open Day
Ownership of the site must first be established. Although the Board of Deputies has acted as guardian of the site, and will continue for the moment with Public Liability insurance, the Friends may have to claim title to it. We must then raise funds ourselves before applying for a funding grant, possibly from the Lottery.
The Friends published their first newsletter in November which was circulated to the 85 members.
An outline of the history of the site is given here.