The Jewish Cemetery was set up on areas of land the medieval Oxford Jews purchased shortly after 1177, which were in fact water meadows by the Cherwell river. The land is now owned by Magdalen College and the Botanic Gardens. In 2016 Human Bones were found in Magdalen College Land during building works. The full story is told in a separate article, and as a result Magdalen College erected a tablet to memorialise the Jewish Souls who were buried there, and who were reburied on 20th June 2019.
Much of this land North of the High was appropriated from the Jews in 1231 by the Hospital of St John leaving only a small area of the meadows, located near the Rose Garden which remained as the Jewish Burial Ground until 1290, when all Jews in England were expelled.
A plaque is fixed to the Gates of the Botanic Garden, unveiled by the City Council in 1931, to commemorate the site as the ancient Jewish Cemetery, see contemporary reports carried in the Oxford Mail and Times. The plaque is difficult to see.
“THIS STONE MARKS THE SITE OF THE JEWISH CEMETERY UNTIL 1290”
An article by Rabbi Eli Brackman “Oxford University Botanic Garden: A Jewish perspective“ was posted on the Oxford Chabad websiteposted Thursday, 22 November, 2018 which adds interesting other facts to this history and makes several fascinating observations regarding the tablet, and specifically the Hebrew lettering and its significance.
The footpath from these Gardens to Christ Church Meadows linked the Cemetery to the Medieval Jewry along what is now St Aldates, and has long been known as ‘Deadman’s Walk‘ a name still used today.
The University of Oxford Botanic Garden was established at the beginning of the 17th century as a ‘physic garden’ on the site of the original Jewish cemetery which lay just outside the East Gate of the Ancient City Walls
The Oxford Jewish Heritage Committee erected a new, more prominent, memorial to the Medieval Jewish Community on 4th July 2012. The story was carried by the Oxford Mail.
A special article also appears above on this webpage giving details of the new memorial and the dedication ceremony, and subsequently moved the memorial to an upright position.