Jewish burial site in Falmouth awarded grant towards major repair work

23.01.21 jewish burial Falmouth credit Historic England
The Jewish burial ground was laid out in 1780 and a Congregationalist cemetery established in 1808. Credit: Historic England

A grant of £45,000 has been awarded to help with major restoration work of a historic Jewish burial site in Falmouth, Cornwall.

The funding will help repair the Jewish and Congregationalist Cemeteries at Ponsharden.

The Jewish burial ground was laid out in 1780 and a Congregationalist cemetery established in 1808.

They were founded at a time when both faiths were flourishing in Falmouth.

The site is one of only 25 surviving Jewish burial grounds that pre-date the early 19th century in the country.

Seven of them are found in the South West.

The project will take around two years to complete. Credit: Historic England

The grant is part of a wide £500,000 project to repair the gravestones, tombs, walls, entrance stairs, and cemeteries boundary walls.

Work is expected to begin later this month with a site investigation being carried out before the current crumbling boundary can be reinforced.

Work includes:

  • Repairing doorways so the public can access the cemeteries

  • Construction of a path through and between the cemeteries

  • Creation of a green space for visitors

The project will take around two years to complete.

The Jewish cemetery contains 50 recorded burials, all but one dating to between 1780 and 1880. Credit: Historic England

Henrietta Boex, Director of Cultural Services for Falmouth Town Council said: "Since 2012, literally thousands of hours of volunteer time has been invested in this project, physically clearing the overgrown scrub, researching the history and parish registers to shed light on the burials, raising awareness and of course fund-raising.

Cherilyn Mackrory, MP for Truro and Falmouth, said: "I am absolutely delighted to see the successful grant award of £45,000 from Historic England to help with the repairs to Falmouth's historic cemeteries.

"Falmouth has always been a multicultural town and these repairs will allow the community to shine a light on this often forgotten aspect of the town's global past."

The last burial in the Jewish cemetery took place in 1913, and the last nonconformist burial in 1935. Credit: Historic England
  • History of the site

The last burial in the Jewish cemetery took place in 1913, and the last nonconformist burial in 1935.

Both cemeteries then went out of use and by the second half of the 20th century they were neglected and very overgrown.

The site was protected as a scheduled monument in 2002 and placed on Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register in 2009.

In 2011, a group of local volunteers came together to save the site, clearing it of damaging vegetation and carrying out surveys.

In 2014, the Friends of Ponsharden Cemeteries was formed, and an ambitious repair plan was drawn up by 2017.

The Jewish cemetery contains 50 recorded burials, all but one dating to between 1780 and 1880.

Inscriptions dating to before 1838 are exclusively in Hebrew script, but later headstones include some details in English.

The plot is surrounded by a wall, and close to the entrance are remains of a small mortuary chapel known as an ohel.


The project has also been given £296,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, which was awarded in November 2019. 


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