An historic cemetery in Kensington is opening its doors to the public this month after decades of neglect.

The Jewish cemetery on Deane Road opened in 1837 and closed in 1904 with many famous Jewish people buried there. Since then however it fell into disrepair and had laid overgrown and ignored for years.

Recently however, a small committee along with the Probation Service have been working on a refurbishment project. Offenders have been busy clearing away decades worth of trees, shrubs and overgrowth.

Kathy Felton-Aksoy from the Probation Service said: “When first entering this cemetery nearly two years ago, it was difficult to tell what it was. A century’s worth of foliage had buried most of the gravestones, with overgrowth reaching a height of 12ft in some places. Offenders on unpaid work have worked tirelessly two to three days a week since then to help restore the site to its former glory, learning much about its history in the process.”

Saul Marks, project manager and resident genealogist, added: “We would like to invite local people to visit while the work is still in progress. As well as clearing the undergrowth, we need to raise about £200,000 to repair the boundary walls and reset the gravestones, many of which have been knocked over by growing bushes.

“We would also like to have an education centre near the entrance where people can learn more about the cemetery and its fascinating history. Residents might be interested in our cemetery restoration project in terms of volunteering some time, donating funds, or maybe they have Jewish ancestors who might be buried there? Whatever the reason, they are assured of a fascinating visit.”

The cemetery is next to Lidl and guided tours on June 18 are from 3pm until 7pm, although visitors can drop in at any time throughout the day. Visit for more details.