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1. The Jewish Cemetery -- Old Charlton RoadThe Jewish Cemetery is sited on the North East edge of the town. It can be readily found from the town centre if one travels towards the London Road (becoming the A256) or along the Barton Road. Either of the two main roads north-west will cross or pass along Bridge Street and Frith Road. The Old Charlton Road leads directly off Frith Road and Bridge Street feeds into Frith Street. Therefore by turning right onto either of these streets from the centre, the cemetery can be found.
The cemetery itself is located on the right hand side after the fork with Roman Road and is opposite one of the Christian cemeteries and a chapel of rest.
The cemetery is next to the road and is fronted with high, flint-knapped walls with locked Iron Gates. The burial enclosure is rectangular. The front half of the enclosure is without burials - in fact the remains of the foundations of the rectangular ohel and a circular carriage drive occupy much of this area. The ohel was originally built in 1870. On the wall or rested next to the wall to the right of the gate are a variety of plaques and inscriptions either preserved from the destroyed synagogue or relating to the cemetery.
The rear upper portion of the cemetery, containing most of the burials, is on a very steep slope with a central access path. The oldest burials are at the very rear i.e. the highest point, of the cemetery.
The cemetery is part of a natural amphitheatre and an expansive necropolis filling the surrounding land and hill sides. It is - for a cemetery - a charming and peaceful place with a wonderful rural location.
The cemetery was established after 1864 and by 1868 on land provided by the Dover Harbour Board. The dispute that occasioned its creation has already been described. Early maps show that it was built on what would have been low value land, on or next to old clay pits, between St Mary's and St James's Cemetery to the immediate south-west and north-east. The site has not been extended since the original foundation. The cemetery is still in use to day and there were recent interments at the time of our original visit.
In looking around the cemetery, the first points of interest, apart from the site of the ohel and entrance drive, are the plaques on or next to the wall to the right. Many of them are the only remnants of the synagogue destroyed in the Second World War, which were brought to the cemetery for preservation.
Several from the old synagogue give touching and wide ranging testimony in stone to the services and work of R.I. Cohen; the largest of all the memorials is a very large and now broken tablet leant against the wall:
THIS TABLET WAS [ERECTED TO THE] MEMORY OF
THE REVD R I COHEN OF SUSSEX HOUSE
IT WAS BY HIS INSTRUMENTALITY
THAT THE NEW SYNAGOGUE IN DOVER WAS [ERECTED]
AND THIS BURIAL GROUND WAS FORMED IN RE[SPECT]
OF HIS LAST WISH THAT THERE MIGHT BE A [BURIAL]
PLACE IN DOVER FOR THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY
HE LOVED SO WELL AND AMONG WHOM HE SPENT SO MANY
YEARS OF A LONG AND USEFULL LIFE
Another large tablet, shattered into pieces lies on the ground near the first:
THIS MEMORIAL TABLET
IS ERECTED TO THE MEMORY OF THE
REVD R I COHEN
OF SUSSEX [HOU]SE DOVER
WHO DIED IN LIV[ERPOOL] DEC 3RD 1865
IN THE 62ND YEAR OF HIS AGE
HE CONCEIVED THE IDEA OF BUILDING THIS
SYNAGOGUE AND BY HIS GREAT PERSONAL
EXERTIONS AND BY THE RESPEC[T] WHICH
HIS GOOD NAME CARRIED WITH IT [AM]ONG ALL
THE CLASSES OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY HE WAS
MAINLY INSTRUMENTAL BY COLLECTING SUFFI
CIENT FUNDS FOR ITS ERECTION WHILE ITS
MAINTAINANCE IN PEACE AND HONOR WAS
THE PRIDE AND DELIGHT OF HIS LIFE
BY GODS PERMISSION
THIS SYNAGOUE WAS MADE THE CLOSING
SCENE OF HIS EARTHLY LABORS
FOR THE LAST ACT OF HIS FAILING HEALTH
ALLOWED[?] HIM TO ACCOMPLISH
WAS THE READING OF THE PRAYERS O[N]
THE DAY OF ATONEMENT 5626
SOON AFTER WHICH
[IT P]LEASED GOD TO TAKE HIM
When we came across the tablet we had to completely reassemble it after it had been cast aside in a strewn heap for the recent clearing of the vegetation. Many of the smaller pieces have already been lost - though we managed to find chips and smaller fragments buried among debris. This memorial is in undoubted danger of being lost or stolen.
A white marble tablet set in the wall, and presented by the Dover congregation, also continues the justified valedictions to Rabbi Cohen:
IS ERECTED BY THE MEMBERS OF
IN RECOGNITION OF THE INDEFATIGABLE
ZEAL EVINCED BY THE
REVD. R.I.COHEN. HONY. SECY.
TOWARDS THIS SYNAGOUE.
LIKEWISE FOR HIS MANY VALUABLE
PAST SERVICES RENCERED FOR A LONG TERM OF YEARS
AUGUST 10TH 5625/1863
Other then Cohen's memorial there are other tablet of historical interest. The upper half of a very finely inscribed plaque with the prayer for the Royal Family in English (with a Heading in Hebrew) is also leant against the wall. While the inscription looks at first glance to be very indistinct it can be read fairly clearly from an oblique angle and in the correct light.
THE ROYAL FAMILY
He who giveth salvation unto kings and dominion unto
princes whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom who
delivered his sevant David from the ------ sword who
maketh a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waves
[may he] bless guard and protect and..................
A foundation tablet fron the synagogue also survives set into the wall:
BY VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS
B. NATHAN J.GRUNWALD
ON MONDAY 10th AUGUST 5625/1865
W, GRUNWALD A.J.VANDERLYN
There are two additional memorial wall tablets, citing the involvement of the wives of two prominent men in the life of the Dover community. One to Judith Montefiori, the wife of the celebrated Sir Moses Montefiori, and the other to Priscilla Hart, the second wife of Henry Hart.
Within the area of burials there are a number of interments and tombs of interest. Starting from the rear, the graves of the victims of the W.A.Scholten are to be found in the second row down (B, 7-12). Only one memorial was raised to any of the six Jewish victims of the shipwreck, to Solomon Goldsmith, probably a passenger from the first class on the Scholten. The English reads 'In memory of / Solomon Goldsmith / who was drowned off Dover in the wreck of the W.A.Sholten / 31 November 1887 5648 / Ps 139 9-10 / may his soul rest in peace.'
The verses alluded to from Psalm 139 reads, 'If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.' This quotation aptly recalls that Goldsmith was probably bound as an settler to American and a poignant faith in the goodness of the hand of the Lord even in disaster...
This sole memorial belays the platitude that there is no social distinction in death. The other interments are the blank unmarked plots to either side of Goldsmith - mute testimony to the other victims.
In next row down (C, 13-14), just below the victims of the Scholten, lies the tombs of Henry Hart and his second wife Priscilla. Henry Hart's memorial gives honour to his status as honorary freeman of Canterbury. It is interesting to note that the decoration at the top of his tomb, a flower, perhaps recalls the emblem rose carved on his first wife's, Rosa's, tombstone at Canterbury. Thus while in death Hart lay by the side of his second wife, he had not forgotten his first laying in the quiet enclosure of Canterbury cemetery.
On the next row down, below, and to the right of the tomb of Henry Hart, near to the end of the row, the grave of Rabbi Barnstein (C, 19) can be found and notes his fifty years' leadership of the congregation.
At the foot of the slope there is a single chest tomb to Bloom, the wife of the Revd. R.I. Cohen. The tomb is very attractively designed and has a fine English and Hebrew inscription on either side. Bloom died '..in her 83d year after a useful and happy life...'. In this period being deemed to have led a 'useful life' was considered to be high praise indeed and reflects a peculiarly 19th century attitude to human existence. The monument was raised by the redoubtable daughters of R.I. Cohen who were mentioned earlier.
Keys to the cemetery, had at the time of our original visit, been placed in the hands of Hambrook & Johns, Undertakers, Beaconsfield Road, Dover, so as to provide access for visitors to the cemetery.
On returning to the centre of Dover remnants and sites of other places of interest can be located by the more dedicated.
2. The Site of the old Synagogue -- Northampton StreetThe site of the old synagogue has been nearly obliterated by the depredations of the last war and of modern redevelopment. The site of the synagogue largely lays under the new dual carriageway along Snargate Street, just west of the York Street roundabout. This is close to the sea front and partly over River Dour.
The building was raised at the corner of Northampton Street, near the head of the inner harbour. and was designed by the architect, W.E.Williams. Contemporary reports note that it was a small and neat classical building of some 50' by 30' with adjoining vestibule, to the front, and over this was a committee room. The plans for the building also included provisions for a 'bath room' - by bathroom it is possible that the Christian reporter is referring to a mikvah or ritual bath. The synagogue could accommodate 250 people in the main body of the building and the galleries and cost 1000 guineas.
One of the peculiarities of the building was that it was partly built over the River Dour, which ran through a 'strong tunnel' beneath the northern part of the synagogue.
In the main building, the Ark was in the East of the building (though the building was not on a true East - West line) with three stained glass windows and a highly decorated dome above it. The building was richly decorated mostly in white, blue and gold and the galleries had ornate painted iron work railings.
At the opening of the synagogue, the place was filled out. There were many dignitaries. Local and national Jewish figures were there, including the Chief Rabbi, Dr Adler. Leading Christians of Dover and representatives of the Harbour Board were also there in force.
The Torah Scrolls were processed in with much song and the seemingly obligatory entourage of little boys with blue scarves scattered the obligatory flowers from baskets before the steps of the procession.
The Chief Rabbi's sermon made much emphasis (as was customary in the still new era of Jewish Emancipation) on the good feeling existing between the Christian and Jewish community and the patriotism of the Jewish people, so that they were prepared not only to defend their country but 'even to lay down their lives for it.'
Afterwards the official guests (some 200-300 persons) partook of a 'magnificent collation' in the Wellington Hall where many toasts were offered in thanks to the Harbour Board. It was judged that, 'The whole proceedings passed off to the credit of the promoters and to the highest satisfaction of the all who participated therein.'
Putting aside the high rhetoric of the occasion, there is no doubt that the building of the new synagogue, needing as it did the considerable support and good will of the Christian community, was in many ways emblematic of the great legal and social advances that the Anglo-Jewish community had made in the preceding half-century.
Part of the site of the synagogue and its garden can be seen. It lies just south west of the York Street roundabout on Snargate Street (i.e. on the seaward side of the road) behind the row of Victorian buildings that make Cambridge Terrace.
The easiest way to find it is to walk towards the sea, along Bench Street, through the pedestrian subway at New Bridge and exit to the right, across from where the River Dour disappears into its tunnel. At street level near to the exit steps from the subway is a small entry to the left (a public right of way) leading behind Cambridge Terrace. The unkempt 'garden' is the general site of the synagogue and its gardens, though the main bulk if not all of the synagogue building lay in what is the car park over the wall.
3. The old Jewish Quarter - Snargate StreetOn leaving the site of the synagogue and going south-west on the dual carriage way, the A20 to Folkestone, a turning to the right is quickly reached, which leads on to a surviving stretch of Snargate Street running parallel to the new dual carriageway.
Snargate originated in the 14th century, as a commercial street built on the then beach. It was the main shopping street until World War I, close to the harbour installations and the military dockyards, as well as the military garrison high on the cliffs behind. In short it was an ideal location for the Jewish community, though like so many port towns the ambience of the place would have been a lively admixture of vice and virtue . Today the street has declined from its former importance and it has suffered radical changes due to the wars and re-development. It seems that many of the Jewish homes and businesses were towards the western end of the street much of which had disappeared. However the street still retains a degree of character, as some of the original housing stock survives along the street with some small shops and pubs. One unique feature of the street was that many of the houses backing onto the chalk cliffs had extensive cellars and chambers cut into the living chalk behind.
Another attraction is at the very western end of the street. Here is the so called 'Grand Shaft' a 140 foot, triple-staired shaft providing a short cut from the old garrison above on the cliff tops of the Western Heights, to sea level. This was built between 1806-9, to enable troops to be rapidly deployed from barracks to the Drop Redoubt fort in the harbour in case of invasion. However 'as the invasion never came the shaft was used as a quick route for soldiers to the public houses and brothels of Snargate Street and the Pier District.'
4. Rabbi Cohen's School (Sussex House Academy For Jews) And Mount Ellis - Westmount, Folkestone RoadAfter exiting Snargate Street and turning back towards the centre of Dover on the A20 and turning left into York Street and then left again onto the Folkestone Road (B2011), the site of Rabbi Cohen's School is approached as well as the surviving residence of J.J. Ellis.
The site of the school is on the right of the Folkestone Road. It is someway after the Railway Station. Westmount is after the junction of St John's Road and before Winchelsea Road. The present buildings are set back from the road on top of a prominent slope and are now Dover Adult Education Centre, run by Kent County Council.
The present main building on the site, is the original Mount Ellis, the brick four-storied mansion of Joseph Ellis refered to earlier and which R.I.Cohen opened in 1865.
Despite the fact that its grandure is a little decayed, it would have been a substantial and imposing house in its day, befitting a wealthy businessman. The foundation stone that R.I.Cohen helped to lay, can still be found in an outer buttress wall on the right hand side of the property, near to the frontage. It is below the immediate ground level as part of the lower ground floor. The inscription is much eroded but one can just make out 'LAID [BY] J J ELLIS...' but the rest is almost perished. It seems that after Ellis' death the building reverted back to educational use. By 1898 'Mount Ellis' had become 'Westmount' and was the junior branch of Dover College.
As to Cohen's school, it lay approximately lengthways, across the north-south axis of right-hand side of the present site of West Mount, with its frontage closer to the road than the present Westmount. It consisted of a main building to the front, with a small extension wing to the east, widening the frontage, and with an annex laying across to the rear. There was according to the OS maps, a tree-lined garden to the front, and a play-ground at the left-hand rear corner of the site. The buildings were considerable larger than the other houses in the vicinity as might be expected with well in excess of 50 residents and pupils at the school.
5. Mildmay Lodge School - Mildmay Hotel, Folkestone RoadJust to the right and adjacent of the entrance to Westmount is the Mildmay Hotel, which is the former school of Rev. Barnstien. It is no doubt significant that Barnstein set up his school almost in the shadow of that of his illustrious predecessor, to perhaps profit from virtue by association.
The building is a substantial stuccoed and rendered Victorian building, which was no doubt well suited for a boarded school. The building had evidently ceased to be a Jewish school at some point before 1898, as in this year it is listed as the residence of one Nils Schjott.