Map of Search Results
Newport - South Wales

Places of interest

Bookmark this page |  E-mail this page to a friend

Former Synagogue - 3 Queens Hill Crescent
Newport Synagogue and Cemeteries - Risca Road, Newport

1. Former Synagogue - 3 Queens Hill Crescent

The community moved its synagogue to 3 Queens Hill Crescent, Newport NP9 5HH, in 1934, when the community was at its zenith. The new building was a well built and large brick building, with the synagogue prayer hall upstairs and the lower floor provided for the Hebrew School (of 1922) and all of the kitchens and other spaces required. There was also a permanent Sukkah in the ground for Sukkot. The Rabbi lived in a house not far away and many of the congregants lived in the surrounding street and the local school was where many of the community were educated.

The Newport Jewish Literary and Social Institute met regularly at the Synagogue Chambers, from 1902 and were able to host leading Jewish speakers of the time, such as Rev. A.A. Green, Rev Polack, Norman Bentwich. Interestingly they association also featured female speakers and tackled topics such as the female sufferage, such as when Miss E. M. Barke MA (Cardiff) spoke on 'The need for the enfranchisement of women'.

Larger dances and socials tended to be held elsewhere, such as the King's Head Hotel, in 1909. The Newport Zionist Association also met in the School Room at the synagogue in the same era.

The synagogue remained in use until about 1999, when it closed, because it was too large for the requirements of the congregation and the recession in the early part of the Thatcher administration seems to have had its effect too. This lead to the former Ohel being converted and used as the new synagogue as they wanted something smaller and much cheaper to maintain and this served the community purposes well until the community became defunct. The building has been converted and is now Kites Nursery. From the street, the inscription elevated above the door is clearly visible and stained glass lancets with Stars of David flank the entrance door.

2. Newport Synagogue and Cemeteries - Risca Road, Newport

The last Newport Synagogue is now located away from the centre of Newport, in a suburb, on the edge of one of the largest municipal cemeteries in the UK, which is widely used a local recreational area. The synagogue and its attached cemetery, if set in attractive woodland, that is known universally by local people, as 'Jews' Wood'.

The now recently redundant synagogue, was the Ohel at the Jewish cemetery of 1859; (extended, in 1928), the converted Ohel was used as the synagogue, from about 1999, until 2006. Adjacent is the old cemetery, which is set in attractive woodland and is part of Jews' Wood. The old cemetery and site is approximately 63m x 27m (200 feet x 90 feet). A public access path then leads alongside the old cemetery and the synagogue, to the second, new cemetery, of c. 1946, which is fronted by a modest brick Ohel. The Brick Ohel of c. 1950, looked as if it had been constructed by community members, under the post-war rationing of building materials, and has a number of stained glass windows and large double doors looking out onto the cemetery, which slopes down-hill from the Ohel. The new cemetery is 40 m x 23 m (75 feet x 130 feet), Part of the land, which belonged to the Jewish cemetery, but was never used, was gifted to the Council, at the bottom of the slope, as an extension to the municipal cemetery and is now separated.

The synagogue is a small building of considerable character - the main part is hexagonal with an entry direct onto the street and then there is an extension leading to the doors direct into the cemetery, as well as another small extension for utilities. There is a shallow plaster dome forming the ceiling and the small windows have stained glass. The synagogue is currently set-up for worship and most, but not all of its appurtenances and books, are still in the building, and many of these are from the previous two synagogues in Newport (some of the original prayer books, published in Russia are still present), though the Torah scrolls have gone to Nottingham and the silver has been given to Chabad in Bristol.

Interesting items retained in the synagogue, include the 4 cast-iron Chuppah poles and the original canopy (and Ark Covering) is retained as well. There are two Warden's chairs, made of Oak, which appear to be of a High Wycombe manufactory (by their style) and include prominent Star of David Carvings and could be either Victorian or Edwardian. There are multiple dedication plaques, some of significant age and importance, as well as framed pictures and certificates. There is also a good range of synagogue ephemera in evidence too, including tickets for the Newport Jewish Literary Society and Zionist Association.

The adjacent old cemetery has its own distinctive, though conservative, Ashkenazic, monumental style and is well laid out and maintained, with few memorials being in a decayed or dangerous state and in many cases contains several generations of the same family and which quietly tell the community history. It contains 4 war-graves and the CWGC makes a small subvention each year for their maintenance. The cemetery contains widely spaced trees, which effectively makes this a wood-land cemetery.

The cemeteries are locked and access has to be arranged with the community.

Post a Comment
Submit to this trail