I think we’re all a little guilty of this – passing by things and places in our everyday lives without really looking at them. Maybe it’s the time expansion of modern life I’m not sure but I really do try to exercise a little mindfulness and understand and comprehend the things that surround me.
Speaking to an acquaintance recently, I came to hear about a little place of historic interest right in the city centre of Nottingham, one I had passed by hundreds if not thousands of times without paying any heed to. It’s a burial-place, a tiny, now disused cemetery for those of the Jewish faith. All I could ever profess to previously noticing was a tall sandstone wall with what looked like a patch of unremarkable wasteland behind it.
The original Jewish Cemetery, North Sherwood Street, Nottingham
A little rudimentary research tells me that Jewish people resided in Nottingham near the old castle around the time of the Norman conquest until the year of 1290 at the time they were expelled from the country by King Edward I. Apparently, they were acceded entry to the country again by Oliver Cromwell in 1657 with some settling in Nottingham for a century or so afterwards. Never a particularly prosperous community originally, it began to increase into the nineteenth century with the first synagogue in 1815 and merchants and businessmen from Germany arriving to stay, midway through that century.
Tablet above the door.
By the year of 1822 the town council agreed to lease the small area of just 144 yards to the Jewish community for use as a burial ground on North Sherwood Street, not far from the old town centre. The small plot was used until the 1860s when a larger area was required. My understanding is that a new cemetery was used after this time at Southey Street a few minutes walk away. Since then, a section of the large general cemetery at Wilford Hill to the south of the city has been used from around the middle of the twentieth century. The gate at North Sherwood Street’s little cemetery now remains locked, hiding it’s story.
Wherever we walk, history walks with us.