The boundary walls with the remains of the Bet Torah and 14 monuments at the Jewish cemetery in Penzance


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Penzance Jewish Cemetery, Leskinnick Terrace, Penzance


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Statutory Address:
Penzance Jewish Cemetery, Leskinnick Terrace, Penzance

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SW 47406 30722



PENZANCE LESKINNICK TERRACE The boundary walls with the remains of the Bet Torah and 14 monuments at the Jewish cemetery in Penzance

(Formerly listed as: LESKINNICK TERRACE, Jewish Cemetery Boundary Walls and Four Monuments to:- Solomon Zalman [Dated 1823], Judas Son of Moses [Dated 1824], Jacob James Hart [Dated 1846] and Unidentified Monument [Dated 1791])


The boundary walls of the Jewish cemetery in Penzance with the remains of the Bet Torah and 14 headstones and tombs date from the mid-C18 to the C19. They are constructed from thick granite rubble walls with slate or stone headstones.

PLAN: The cemetery is irregular in plan, tapering towards the entrance at the south-east. Here there is a small roofless vestibule, with the exposed foundations of a square cell immediately to the north, believed to be the remains of a Bet torah (cleansing house) where the dead would have been washed and prepared for burial. The boundary walls, around 2m high, enclose a small cemetery with 14 listed headstones, as well as a number of other headstones which are not considered to be of significance in a national context.

MONUMENTS: Those monuments which are late-C18 and early-C19 in date are included in the list: un-identified stone dated 1791; Soloman Zalman 1823; Judas son of Moses 1824. Those monuments which are of good quality are also included in the list: Jacob James Hart 1846; Lemon Wolf 1848; Hannah Levy 1851; Israel Levin 1851; Julia Levin 1879; Rev Greenberg 1861; Eliezer ben Isaac 1844; Shevya Levy 1850; Israel ben Moses -undated infant death: Judah ben Naphtali undated (1817).

HISTORY: The first Jewish cemetery in post-Expulsion England was opened in London by the Sephardim at Mile End in 1657. By 1800 there were some 25 Jewish cemeteries nationally and by 1840 there were over 40. The Penzance cemetery was established on land leased to the Jews by the Rogers estate and other local prominent Anglican families. The earliest plot leases date from 1740. In Penzance the leases were granted directly to named Jews rather than being underwritten by a Christian sponsor, which was more commonly the case, because it was uncertain if Jews were permitted to hold property. The cemetery was in a prime location and the plot leases offered favourable terms, suggesting that the Jews were being actively encouraged to settle in Penzance. The first synagogue was built in Penzance in 1768. Enclosure of the cemetery began in 1811 and was completed in 1845 after the Jewish community bought the freehold in 1844. The earliest headstone dates from 1791 with unmarked, probably earlier graves around it. The last historic burial was in 1911, although two late C20 burials were allowed on unused plots. During 1941 the walls and some headstones in the south west corner suffered some bomb damage and were later repaired. There are two late-C20 burials which are not of historic significance. The cemetery was first listed in 2004.

SOURCES: accessed 11/10/2007 Keith Pearce and Helen Fry, The Lost Jews of Cornwall. (2000)

The boundary wall with the remains of the Bet torah and 14 early or good quality monuments of the Jewish cemetery in Penzance are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* The Jewish cemetery survives well as one of only 25 cemeteries nationally which were established in the C18. It is considered to be amongst the best preserved outside London.

* It survives well with its walls and the majority of its early monuments surviving intact with clearly legible, and in many cases impressive quality inscriptions

* The partial survival of the Bet torah is particularly rare in cemeteries of this early date


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Pearce, K, Fry, H (eds), The Lost Jews of Cornwall, (2000)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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