Reference NumberP/MAR
TitlePapers of Kevin Martin about the Novo Cemetery
DescriptionFinding aids to the burial sites at Novo Cemetery, Mile End. Includes photographs of all gravestones and Excel spreadsheets documenting locations, all created by Mr Martin.

Click the PDF icon to browse descriptions to this collection in PDF
Extent3 Excel Spreadsheets and 823 digital photographs
AdminHistoryThe finding aids and photographs have been compiled by Kevin Martin. He has an interest in the Novo Cemetery through conducting family history research. The photo survey was conducted between 2018 - 2019 and does not include the old part of the cemetery (from 1733) which has been removed.

The Novo Cemetery is a Grade II listed Sephardic Jewish Cemetery, situated in the grounds of Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). The address is: The Novo (Nuevo) Cemetery, Queen Mary - University of London, Mile End Road, Tower Hamlets.

The Sephardi congregation are Jewish people originally from Spain and Portugal. They had a powerful influence on trade in the City of London. The community was officially recognised by Oliver Cromwell during the Commonwealth in the 1650s. The Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation was administered from Bevis Marks Synagogue (opened 1702) in the City of London.

The Novo Cemetery opened in 1733, and it is one of the only two Sephardic cemeteries left in London. The first Jewish cemetery was called the Velho Cemetery. It was built on a small plot of land in a mile and a half to the east of Aldgate, in what was then known as Mile End Old Town in 1657.

The Velho cemetery was nearly full by the beginning of the 18th century. In 1726, another former orchard was leased by the Sephardi community. This became the Novo or Nuevo cemetery.
The first burial at the Novo cemetery took place in 1733. Over the next 150 years, most Sephardi burials in London took place there. Another expansion was needed and in 1855 a further 1.7 acres were added to the east, between the pre-existing and the Regent's Canal.

By the end of the 19th century, the city's affluent Sephardic community had moved to away from the City and East End. They settled in north-west London with a new synagogue built in Maida Vale. In 1897 the Novo cemetery was superseded by a new burial ground at Hoop Lane in Golders Green. The cemetery remained open for adult burial until 1906, for child burial until 1918, with a few interments continuing into the 1970s.

Negotiations for QMUL to acquire and develop the cemetery had been underway since the 1940s. The purchase was delayed until 1972 through objections by members of the Jewish community and legal issues. The old part of the cemetery (from 1733) was cleared. The remains of over 7000 bodies were removed and re-buried in a pit on college-owned land near Brentwood, Essex.
The remaining portion of the cemetery is in a fenced off enclave surround by university building.

Sources of Information:
RelatedMaterialFurther records held at:
- University of Southampton Special Collections- 3 rolls 1684 relating to the acquisition of the burial ground in Mile End. Reference number: GB738 MS 116/23
- London Metropolitan Archives holds the archives of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation. These include papers of Bevis Marks Synagogue and records for the Congregation's burial grounds. Records include property papers for the burial ground, minute book for the burial ground committe and contracts with Queen Mary University. Collection reference: LMA/4521
CopiesFinding aids and photographs also accessible via Cemetery Scribes:
Access StatusOpen
RequestNO - This does not represent a physical document. Please click on the reference number and view list of records to find material available to order at file or item level.


Add to My Items