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KNIGHTS TEMPLAR AND SHOPPING AT WAITROSE

Temple Fortune in north London

THE FIRST TWO HOUSES to be built in the ‘utopian’ Hampstead Garden Suburb (‘HGS’) still stand on a short stretch of Hampstead Way about 500 feet from Finchley Road, where it passes through the oddly named district of Temple Fortune. These houses are relatively close to shops, whereas most of HGS is not. For, the Suburb was designed with several churches, a couple of schools, but no shopping facilities. In 1905 and a few years following it when HGS was designed and largely built, few people owned motor vehicles. So, for most of the inhabitants of the HGS, shopping had to be done on foot or by bicycle in one of the few shopping areas outside the boundaries of the recently laid out district.

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When I was a child living in HGS, the nearest shops to my home were in Temple Fortune, about half a mile’s walk away. In my early teens, the main shopping attraction for me in Temple Fortune was the branch of WH Smiths, which I noted recently is still functioning where I remember it to have been long ago. Smiths, in those far-off days, had a good stock of books, although not nearly as good as the now non-existent High Hill Books in Hampstead, and gramophone records. It was at Smiths that I bought my first classical music LP, a Music For Pleasure disc with a recording the Second Symphony by Sibelius. Buying that LP was the start of my great love of classical music.

There was a newsagent in Temple Fortune’s Bridge Lane, close to where it meets Finchley Road and neighbouring a hardware shop, which sold cultural material not then stocked by WH Smiths. This included American cartoon comics (‘Superman’ etc.) and ‘Mad’ magazine, which I loved and on which I was prepared to spend my precious pocket money. Unlike Smiths, this shop and the hardware store have disappeared.

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In my youth I never wondered why the somewhat dismal shopping centre was called Temple Fortune. The area was formerly part of a Saxon Hamlet called Bleccanham (www.barnet.gov.uk/libraries-old/local-studies-and-archives/pocket-histories/hendon/temple-fortune-hendon-nw11). The ‘Temple’ part of the name ‘Temple Fortune’, which appears on a map prepared in 1754 refers to the Knights of St John (or more likely, the Knights Templar), who owned land around Hendon in 1240. ‘Fortune’ probably derives from ‘foran tun’ meaning a small settlement on the way to somewhere, in this case the larger settlement of Hendon.

Finchley Road, on which Temple Fortune lies, was only completed in 1835. Before that road was built, the hamlet of Temple Fortune lay on the route from Hampstead to Finchley. In the far-off days before the existence of Finchley Road, to reach Finchley from Hampstead it was necessary to proceed as follows. First, the traveller would have to traverse the range of hills to the north of Hampstead, using a road that roughly follows the present North End Road and its continuation, Golders Green Road. After passing the open fields and common land of Golders Green, which was all that existed of that place before about 1908 when the Northern Line arrived, the traveller would have taken a right turn into Hoop Lane, and gone along it in a north-easterly direction to its end where it met the currently named Temple Fortune Lane. Next, the traveller would have had to go northwest along this lane until he or she reached a triangular open space, which is now the position of modern Temple Fortune. This spot was the southern end of Ducksetters Lane, which wound its way north-eastwards to Finchley. Temple Fortune was also important as a node in northwest London’s road system. The current Bridge Lane was the road along which travellers could travel from Temple Fortune to Brent Street close to Hendon.

I have written about the significance of Hoop Lane in my life elsewhere (https://londonadam.travellerspoint.com/48/). Temple Fortune Lane, which leads to Temple Fortune, was also a place I visited often until my early teens because it was where my then best friend, who passed away a few years ago, used to live. Also, in the late 1960s, our family practitioner moved his surgery to this street from its former location in his home next to Golders Green Underground Station.

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Sad to say, but most of the shopping centre of Temple Fortune is not pleasing to the eye. The exceptions are two large buildings with covered walkways (arcades) with elegant archways at pavement level. Placed either side of the start of Hampstead Way, they form an elegant ‘gateway’ to HGS. Temple Fortune House is on the north side of Hampstead Way and a similar looking building, Arcade House, is on the south side. Nikolaus Pevsner and his colleague Bridget Cherry describe these buildings in “Buildings of England. London 4: North” as follows:
“ … detailed by Unwin’s assistant AJ Penty (1909-1911). Their Germanic silhouettes are inspired by the mediaeval towns, like Rothenburg … Identical hipped gable ends with faintly Regency vertical iron balconies, but otherwise the buildings are subtly different: Arcade House (originally a tea room) partly timber framed, Temple Fortune House (flats) with lattice timber balconies.”
Number 166 Hampstead Way, next to Temple Fortune House, is in the neo-Georgian style and is the area manager’s office called Vivian House.

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In my childhood, much of the ground floor of Arcade House was occupied by a large store called Pullens. This shop supplied uniform to the pupils of numerous north London private schools as well as other children’s clothing. Pullens moved to new locations some years ago. A shop on the ground floor of Temple Fortune House was until recently the premises of Kusum Vadgama, the optometrist. Although I never made use of her services, friends gave good reports of her. I mention her because in addition to caring for people’s vision, she has also authored several books about the history of Indian connections with the UK.

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Many of places that used to be part of the Temple Fortune scene during my childhood have disappeared. At the southern end of the area, near the Police Station, there was a shop that sold rubber hoses and cut pieces of rubber to order. This was on the corner of Finchley Road and a narrow lane. Further south on Finchley Road, there was Kanu Stores, which sold everything you might need for preparing recipes from the Indian subcontinent.

For many years, Brentford Nylons occupied a huge shop in an unattractive building on the corner of Bridge Lane and Finchley Road. WH Smiths and Boots the Chemist are further north along Finchley Road, exactly where they were in my childhood. Somewhere near them, there used to be a Wimpy Bar, into which I never ventured. There was also a delicatessen called ‘Panzers’, which my parents used occasionally, but somewhat reluctantly because one of its employees was often rude to customers.

A narrow-fronted shop somewhere along the west side of Finchley Road housed the barber shop of (Mr?) Lee. For many years, my friends and I used to have our haircuts there. It was quick and cheap, rather than ‘haut coiffure’. Somewhere on the same side of the main road, there was Kendricks, Temple Fortune’s well-stocked toy shop. To my young eyes it was a veritable treasure trove. However, once we had a poor experience there. We were just looking, minding our own business, when the owner came up to us and told us to “bugger off”. As a fairly sheltered nine or ten year old I was shocked and when I returned home, I related the tale to my parents, who were horrified that an adult could speak to children with such language. I am not sure whether I ever entered Kendricks again. The shop no longer exists.

Waitrose grocery store was another feature of the Temple Fortune of my childhood. It still stands in its original position but looks as if it has been enlarged. Around the corner from it in Hayes Crescent, there used to be a small car mechanic’s workshop. I remember this because it was where my friend’s father used to take his well-groomed, leather-seated, wonderful old Austin (A40 or similar) to be serviced.

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One of my main reasons for visiting Temple Fortune apart from shopping was to see films in the now non-existent Odeon cinema, which was on the east side of Finchley Road, a few hundred yards north of Temple Fortune House. It stood between Birnbeck Close and Childs Way. Originally named the ‘Orpheum’, the cinema was opened in October 1930 (http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/26429). Serving both as a cinema and a theatre, it was renamed the ‘Odeon’ in 1945, and then later the ‘Odeon Golders Green’. For a few shillings, one could spend an entire afternoon, from two until after six pm, at the Odeon. After having to stand for the National Anthem, the audience was treated to a full-length feature film, then a documentary from the “Look at Life” series, then advertisements and film trailers, and then another full-length feature film, a new release. Today, cinema-goers are lucky if they get anything more than the trailers and a feature film. After several lean years in the 1970s, the Odeon was demolished in May 1982 and a non-descript block of flats built in its place.

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Between the former Odeon and Temple Fortune House, and set back from the main road, stands a Marks and Spencer food store, which opened a few years after my mother died in 1980. If I remember correctly, the site occupied by M&S used to be the premises of a car showroom or, if not that, some kind of large garage. The original showroom, which might still be part of the structure of the current food store was in the art deco style and was built in 1934 (www.hgstrust.org/documents/area-16-finchley-road.pdf).

I began by writing that there were no shops built in the HGS. This is not strictly true because a row of shops, the Market Place, runs along Falloden Way (part of the A1), which separates the Suburb into two distinct sections, the older (original) and newer parts. However, the original plan was not to include shops. Next to Arcade House at the beginning of Hampstead Way, there is number 16 Arcade House, a small detached single storied building almost surrounded by hedges. It is edifice typical of some of the styles of architecture found in the Suburb and ever since I can remember, it has always been a small shop. In my childhood, I believe it supplied electrical fittings or picture framing, but now it houses another kind of business, related to design. Given its postal address, it must have been something like an outhouse for its larger neighbour, Arcade House.

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One place that I associate with later in my life, during the 1980s, is a Chinese restaurant that served excellent food. I used to eat there occasionally with my father and friends. One of the dishes I remember that we enjoyed was a starter consisting of scallops served in their shells. The restaurant closed long ago, which is a pity. Now, scallops, in common with all other shellfish, are not kosher and therefore observant Jewish people do not eat them. Temple Fortune was and still is in a neighbourhood where many observant Jewish people, who adhere to kosher dietary rules, reside. During my childhood and still today, there were and still are several shops selling food that satisfies the kosher requirements. One of these shops, which existed in my childhood, Sam Stoller, the fishmonger, remains in business, but the other stores have sprung up since I became an adult. A report in “My London” dated 22nd of June 2020 (https://www.mylondon.news/news/north-london-news/police-stumble-across-huge-cannabis-18457845) revealed:
“Metropolitan Police officers were called on Friday night (June 19) after water was seen running out of Sam Stoller & Son fishmongers, a ground floor shop on Temple Fortune Parade … there was a "significant" water leak from the flat above … Firefighters helped the officers force their way in only to find a sophisticated cannabis farm of more than 300 plants … It was the hydroponic system used to water the many illegal plants that was leaking…”
Well, I had no idea that glum Temple Fortune could be such an exciting place. Talking of horticulture, there is a garden centre near to the end of Temple Fortune Lane where it meets Finchley Road. This establishment has been there for many decades but the off-licence shop opposite it is no longer there.

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Temple Fortune remains an important shopping and meeting centre for those who live in the shop free HGS. Many of the places that I remember from my childhood have disappeared from it, but a few remain. Walking along Finchley Road through Temple Fortune still evokes memories of my childhood and during our sporadic visits there, we ‘bump’ into old acquaintances occasionally.

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Posted by ADAMYAMEY 10:51 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london shopping memory judaism childhood golders_green temple_fortune Comments (2)

A ROAD OF SIGNIFICANCE

A seemingly unimportant road in north-west London played a significant role in my younger days, and offers some intriguing surprises...

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LIFE AND DEATH IN HOOP LANE

Hoop Lane runs in a north-easterly direction from Golders Green Road to Meadway. This by-way is of personal interest as it ran through the first few decades of my life, and the last few decades of my mother’s.

Northern Line bridge over Hoop Lane

Northern Line bridge over Hoop Lane

Hoop Lane is amongst Golders Green’s older thoroughfares. It joins Golders Green Road (formerly ‘North End Road’) with Finchley Road, and then continues towards the western edge of the Hampstead Garden Suburb. The latter did not exist prior to about 1905. Before that date, Hoop Lane continued from Finchley Road towards where it ends today, but as a ‘dead-end’ in open country. An 1870’s detailed Ordnance Survey map shows that Hoop Lane was lined by trees (as it is today) and ended at its eastern end at a T-junction. In one direction (north west) ran Temple Fortune Lane, and in the other (south east) ran Wild Hatch, which ended abruptly in farmland. These byways were devoid of buildings in the 1870s. However, an 1807 map shows that there was one building on Wild Hatch at that date. These appear on a 1900 map, labelled as ‘Wild Hatch Cottages’.

1807 map  with some old and modern landmarks overlaid

1807 map with some old and modern landmarks overlaid

Finchley Road was laid out and built in the 1820s and 1830s as a turnpike road (toll-road), bypassing the difficult hilly road that ran from Camden Town through Hampstead village (to Finchley and further north). Before the new road was built, traffic had to climb the steep road to Hampstead, and then wind its way down the North End Road, which still exists. North End Road passed through Golders Green. In the first two decades of the19th century, Golders Green was a string of well-spaced properties, a small hamlet, close to common land (the ‘green’), which was located where Golders Green Station stands today. What is now named ‘Golders Green Road’ was then known as ‘North End Road’. This road continued from Hampstead towards the settlement called ‘Brent Street’.

In those early days, before the existence of Finchley Road, to reach Finchley from Hampstead it was necessary to proceed as follows. After passing the commonage of Golders Green, the traveller would have taken a right turn into Hoop Lane, and gone along it in a north-easterly direction to its end where it met Temple Fortune Lane. Next, the traveller would have had to go northwest along this lane until he or she reached a triangular open space, which is now the position of modern Temple Fortune. This place’s name derives from the fact that it stands on land once owned by the Knights Templars. This spot was the southern end of Ducksetters Lane, which wound its way north-eastwards to Finchley. From this description of the route, it is evident that Hoop Lane was an important thoroughfare between London and the North prior to the building of Finchley Road. It was a country lane with few, if any, buildings before the late 19th century.

Oakview Lodge in approx position of 'The Oaks'

Oakview Lodge in approx position of 'The Oaks'

South west of Finchley Road, Hoop Lane was devoid of buildings as late as 1897. Near where the road met North End Road (now ‘Golders Green Road’), there was a building set in the middle of a large plot called ‘The Oaks’. The Oaks were still marked on a detailed 1912 map. This large stately home disappeared in 1920. By 1912, there were plant nursery buildings on Hoop Lane and, also, one building, now the Central Hotel, where Hoop Lane met Finchley Road on its west side. This must be the one of oldest surviving buildings on Hoop Lane.

HOOP LANE Central Hotel

HOOP LANE Central Hotel

There was another early building (now Glentrees estate agent) opposite it on the other side of Finchley Road close to where the Roman Catholic Church of Edward The Confessor stands today. This church’s construction began in March 1914, and it was completed by October 1915, despite wartime difficulties such as a zeppelin raid on Golders Green in September 1915.

HOOP LANE Glentrees and RC Church of Edward The Confessor and the distant spire of St Judes

HOOP LANE Glentrees and RC Church of Edward The Confessor and the distant spire of St Judes

My earliest memories of Hoop Lane date back to when I was three or four years old, and therefore are rather vague. At that age, I attended a kindergarten in Hoop Lane. This was in the hall attached to Golders Green’s Unitarian Church, which was designed in the ‘Byzantine revival’ style by the architect Reginald Farrow (opened in 1925). It contains interesting artworks including a mural by Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979), which I have not yet seen.

HOOP LANE Kindergarten

HOOP LANE Kindergarten

The kindergarten was under the direction of Miss Schreuer, who lived a few doors away in Hoop Lane. My only lasting memory from my time there was when my father appeared at the school with a white beard and a red outfit, dressed as Father Christmas. A few years later, my sister and my cousins attended Miss Schreuer’s. One day while my sister was attending, I was allowed to return to the school to act as an older helper. One of my fellow pupils was the late Micaela Comberti (1952-2003), who was later to become an accomplished violinist. Her German mother and Italian father were friends of my parents.

HOOP LANE Unitarian Church

HOOP LANE Unitarian Church

I am not sure what became of Miss Schreuer, but I heard rumours that the end of her life was unhappy. Today, the hall, where her school flourished, is now a Montessori kindergarten. When I lived in the area (I left finally when I was aged thirty), I often walked past the school and the Unitarian Church. The latter had a panel facing the road, upon which posters with pious messages were posted. One that I will always remember said:
“If you think you have seen the light, think again”.
Coincidentally, I now live very close to a Unitarian Church in Kensington, even closer than my parents’ home was to Miss Schreuer’s school, and it also offers pre-school facilities to local children.

At the north-western corner of the point where Hoop Lane meets Finchley Road, there stands the Central Hotel (illustrated above). This building is the one that was marked on the 1912 map, one of the oldest buildings in Hoop Lane. Undistinguished in appearance, it has been a hotel for over forty years. I have never met anyone who has stayed there.

HOOP LANE site of Express Dairy depot

HOOP LANE site of Express Dairy depot

Directly across the Finchley Road on the north-eastern corner of its intersection with Hoop Lane, there stands a corner shop. For at least forty years, it has been the premises of Glentree International, an estate agent. Before that, this corner shop was a dairy shop run by Express Dairies. Next to it, accessible from Hoop Lane, the company had a depot for re-charging and stocking its electric milk floats. These floats moved almost silently, apart from the clinking of the glass milk, cream, and yoghurt bottles, which they delivered from house to house every morning. Deliveries, such as these and those made by a mobile vegetable seller in a lorry and a Frenchman with strings of onions draped over his bicycle, made life a little easier for those living in the nearby Hampstead Garden Suburb, which has never had any shops.

Most of the rest of Hoop Lane to the east of Finchley Road is effectively a ‘necropolis’. On the northern side of the road, there is a huge Jewish cemetery. On the southern side, there is the sprawling Golders Green Crematorium. For almost thirty years, I used to walk between these two final destinations for the dead on my way to and from schools and university, in daylight and at night. The possible presence of ghosts and other supernatural phenomena associated with the after-life never bothered me in the slightest. These final resting places were part and parcel of my childhood.

Meadway Gate

Meadway Gate

Meadway Gate from Hoop Lane

Meadway Gate from Hoop Lane

Beyond the cemetery and the crematorium, Hoop Lane ends. Vehicles have to drive around a tiny triangular area containing gardens, and then can continue along Meadway into Hampstead Garden Suburb. Pedestrians can access the small gardens by means of a short staircase, and then walk through them under a wooden pergola to reach Meadway. This little garden is now called ‘Meadway Gate Open Space’. I am certain that it had no name when I lived in the area (i.e. until about 1990). Wild Hatch that is shown on early maps still exists. The northern part of it is accessible to vehicles, but the last hundred or so yards of it is a narrow, rustic footpath that leads to Hampstead Way and across from that, the Hampstead Heath Extension. Opposite Wild Hatch, and beyond the Meadway Gate Open Space, is the beginning of Temple Fortune Lane, that also appears on early maps.

WILD HATCH

WILD HATCH

WILD HATCH Garage with dovecote

WILD HATCH Garage with dovecote

WILD HATCH house with shutters

WILD HATCH house with shutters

Wild Hatch skirts the eastern boundary of the crematorium. Temple Fortune Lane, which has houses on its eastern side, skirts the eastern boundary of the Jewish cemetery. This picturesque cul-de-sac narrows at its eastern end to become a footpath, which threads it way between the garden gates of houses on one side (north) and the edge of the crematorium gardens on the other.

WILD HATCH footpath section

WILD HATCH footpath section

WILD HATCH old garden door

WILD HATCH old garden door

The path emerges on Hampstead Way. Crossing this, one enters the Hampstead Heath Extension. To the north of a gravel path, there is a clump of wild vegetation. Within this, there are mounds that were used during WW2 to position anti-aircraft guns. In my childhood, these mounds were accessible. Now, they are fenced-off and hidden by the plants growing around them.

WILD HATCH Hampstead Heath end

WILD HATCH Hampstead Heath end

Hampstead Heath Extension: anti aircraft gun platforms site

Hampstead Heath Extension: anti aircraft gun platforms site

The Jewish Cemetery in Hoop Lane appears to be divided into two sections. One, the western half, contains upright gravestones, and the other, the eastern, mainly horizontal gravestones. The vertical headstones are characteristic of the Ashkenazi tradition, and the horizontal of the Sephardic tradition. It is probably by chance that the Sephardis, who are mainly Jews from the south and east, rest in the eastern part of the cemetery.

JEWISH CEMETERY Ashkenazi graves

JEWISH CEMETERY Ashkenazi graves

JEWISH CEMETERY Sephardic stones

JEWISH CEMETERY Sephardic stones

A book, “A History in our Time - Rabbis and Teachers Buried at Hoop Lane Cemetery” (published by the Leo Baeck College in 2006), provides an interesting history of the cemetery. The cemetery opened for ‘business’ in about 1896. The juxtaposition of the graves of two types of Jew in the same cemetery is unusual. The Jewish Yearbook for the year 5658 (Jewish calendar; 1897 AD) noted of the cemetery:
“… a new cemetery at Golders’-green was also made ready for its melancholy purpose this last year. This cemetery has the curious distinction of being used by both the Orthodox Sephardim and the Reform Congregation of the West London Synagogue of British Jews.”
The reason for this juxtaposition was that the two separate Jewish communities had bought neighbouring plots of land. Many years after the purchases, some of the land was sold for house building on Temple Fortune Lane (this happened in 1973, and includes the estate on Sheridan Walk), and another part to build a synagogue, the North Western Reform Synagogue (built in 1936; entered from Alyth Gardens). I remember the housing construction around Sheridan Walk because it was opposite the home of one of my first ever school friends.

JEWISH CEMETERY buildings for funerary procedures

JEWISH CEMETERY buildings for funerary procedures

The cemetery, which I have seen by peering through its boundary fence but never visited, contains graves of many notable people including that of Dr Leo Baeck (1873-1956), who was born in Germany and became a leader in both Liberal and Progressive Judaism. During WW2, he represented all German Jews and narrowly avoided being murdered at Theresienstadt. More recently, another well-known Ashkenazi Jew, Rabbi Hugo Gryn (1930 – 1996), a cleric and a broadcaster, was buried here. Amongst those who are buried in the Sephardi section, one is of particular interest to me. This is the barrister and historian Philip Guedalla (1889-1944), who published many books on historical subjects. He was related to my late mother’s family, albeit quite distantly.

CREMATORIUM general view from Hoop Lane

CREMATORIUM general view from Hoop Lane

CREMATORIUM Garden cloisters

CREMATORIUM Garden cloisters

CREMATORIUM View of gardens

CREMATORIUM View of gardens

The Golders Green Crematorium faces the two Jewish cemeteries across Hoop Lane. This was opened in 1902 by Sir Henry Thompson, president of the Cremation Society of England. Before its existence, Londoners wanting to cremate had to use the Woking Crematorium that opened in 1885. The buildings of the crematorium are all close to the brick boundary wall that runs along Hoop Lane. Behind them spread attractive and extensive memorial gardens. According to www.historicengland.org.uk website, the main buildings were designed in the ‘Romanesque Lombardic style’. That may well be the case, but they present a fairly forbidding appearance. Many of the original buildings were designed by teams that included Alfred Yeates (1867-1944) and Ernest George (1839-1922), who formed a business partnership in 1892. George’s speciality was garden architecture. The gardens and some of the buildings at the crematorium are fine examples of his work. Although the various buildings exhibit a certain architectural homogeneity, they were built over several decades as, gradually, money became available to pay for their construction.

CREMATORIUM View of entrance to a columbarium

CREMATORIUM View of entrance to a columbarium

CREMATORIUM Columbarium apse

CREMATORIUM Columbarium apse

CREMATORIUM Anna Pavlova's ashes in the columbarium

CREMATORIUM Anna Pavlova's ashes in the columbarium

CREMATORIUM Columbarium arches

CREMATORIUM Columbarium arches

It is well worth asking to visit the inside of the Ernest George Columbarium. This building, which is usually locked, contains urns of ashes and memorials placed in beautiful stone settings and shelves. Amongst those ‘stored’ in this columbarium are Sigmund Freud and his wife, as well as Anna Pavlova, the ballet dancer. Many other famous people have been cremated at this crematorium (a good list is available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golders_Green_Crematorium). These include, to name a few, Ivor Novello, Bram Stoker, Peter Sellers, Ronnie Scott, Ernő Goldfinger, Kingsley Amis, Enid Blyton, Rudyard Kipling, and Ernest Bevin.

CREMATORIUM Sigmund Freud urn

CREMATORIUM Sigmund Freud urn

CREMATORIUM Dispersal area

CREMATORIUM Dispersal area

Not all of the ashes of the cremated are stored or scattered at the Crematorium. Many are taken away to be disposed of elsewhere, as were, for example, the ashes of Soviet politician and a proponent of the idea of Lenin’s tomb in Moscow Leonid Krasin (1870-1926), which were buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis. According to S Kotkin in his “Stalin. Paradoxes of Power” (published 2014), it was Krasin, who had: “… proposed inclusion of a terrace from which the masses could be addressed…”. This was added to the design of Lenin’s Mausoleum.

Sadly, the crematorium is a place that I have had to visit too often. Friends of my parents and colleagues of my father have been cremated here. These included Professor William Baxter, who was responsible for encouraging my father to come from South Africa to study in the UK in 1938. My father’s colleague at the London School of Economics, the philosopher Professor John Watkins, was another person whose funeral I attended in one of the larger of the crematoriums multi-denominational chapels. We attended the final farewell of Dr ‘Sushi’ Patel, who studied medicine in Bombay with my mother-in-law. She was a Hindu. I remember that the whole congregation filed past her open coffin before she was cremated.

CREMATORIUM View from gardens

CREMATORIUM View from gardens

Closer to home, my heart was filled with great sadness when I attended the memorial services for two of my uncles. At one of these services, the ceremonies were conducted by a Humanist celebrant. At the other, the Jewish Kaddish was recited, this being the final wish of an uncle who in life showed little outward interest in his Jewish background. Later, when his belongings were being sorted, we discovered to our surprise that his interest in Judaism and its practices was greater than anyone had realised.

The saddest funeral that I attended at Golders Green’s Crematorium was my mother’s. She died young after suffering painfully for months in hospital. Very few of us sat in one of the smaller chapels. There was no ceremony, nothing was said. When my mother’s coffin was carried past me along the aisle, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I realised that this was the very last time that I would ever be physically close to her. As soon as I was able, and that was moments after her coffin slid out of sight, I fled from the small gathering, and walked briskly down Hoop Lane towards Finchley Road. Later that day late in December 1980, I bought a boxed set of LPs containing recordings of Bach’s Cello Sonatas. To this day, I have felt unable and unwilling to open them, let alone to play them.

CREMATORIUM Ivor Novello

CREMATORIUM Ivor Novello

My mother was one of many thousands to have been cremated in Golders Green. She was a sculptress. Other artists cremated here included Boris Anrep, Walter Crane, and Percy Wyndham Lewis. Our family lived in Hampstead Garden Suburb, a stone’s throw from St Judes Church, whose architect was Edwin Lutyens, famous for his work in New Delhi. Many of my parents’ friends were psychoanalysts. The greatest of them all, Sigmund Freud, was rendered to ashes in this crematorium. The list of celebrities in all fields who ended up at this place is enormous. I knew nothing of this during the many journeys that I made by foot along Hoop Lane during my younger years. In those days, my mind was on the future rather than the past.

CREMATORIUM Large Chapel

CREMATORIUM Large Chapel

When I was being shown around the Columbarium by one of the Crematorium’s officials, I told him that my mother and uncles had been cremated there. To which he smiled, shook my hand, and then said:
“Well, in that case, I suppose that you will end up here one day.”

Meadway Gate: Horse trough

Meadway Gate: Horse trough

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 10:30 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london cemetery jewish kindergarten freud crematorium golders_green pavlova Comments (1)

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