e JCR-UK: former Dover Synagogue and Jewish Community, Kent, England



the former

Dover Synagogue

and Jewish Community

Dover, Kent




JCR-UK is a genealogical and historical website covering all Jewish communities and
congregations throughout the British Isles and Gibraltar, both past and present.

The Town of Dover
(as well as Deal and Folkestone)

The town of Dover is a port on the English Channel coast in southeast England immediately opposite the coast of France, some 21 miles away. Eight miles to the northeast of Dover is the seaside town of Deal and seven miles to the west is the port of Folkestone.

Dover and Deal are in the local government district of Dover, and Folkestone is in the local government district of Folkestone and Hythe (which was known as Shepway until 2018), both in the county of Kent. The local government districts were formed in 1974, Dover by the merger of the municipal boroughs of Dover, Deal and Sandwich and adjoining rural districts, and Shepway by the merger of the municipal boroughs of Folkestone, Hythe, Lydd and New Romney and adjoining rural districts. The towns of Dover and Deal each have a population of about 30,000 (whereas the Dover district has a total population of some 100,000) and Folkestone has a population of some 45,000.

The Jewish Community

A secret community of Marranos Jews is believed to have existed in Dover in the sixteenth century.(i)  However, although the modern Jewish community in Dover dates back to the early or mid-eighteenth century, the date generally given for the establishment of the community is 1835, when the Paradise Pent synagogue was founded. A cemetery was acquired in the 1860s. In the 19th century there were a number of Jewish schools and colleges in Dover, which attracted pupils from across the country and from overseas, principally Sussex House, Marine House, Westbourne House and Minerva College (see Educational institutions below). The community became defunct during World War II. Also, from the early nineteenth century, there were a number of Jews living in the town of Deal (some eight miles to the north-east), although they do not appear to have established a formal congregation. 

Congregation Data


Dover Synagogue


Northampton Street, Dover (built partly over the river Dour)

The synagogue was built on "a most eligible site of ground" presented in 1861 to the Jewish congregation by Lord Palmerston, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and Commissioners of Dover Harbour for the erection thereon of a synagogue.(iii) It was consecrated 10 August 1863.(iv) 

During World War II, the synagogue was largely destroyed by enemy bombing(v) and was the subject of a compulsory purchase order in 1950 by the Dover Harbour Board. The site now lies largely under the dual carriageway along Snargate Street, just west of the York Street roundabout.(vi)

Previous Address:

Hawkesbury Street, Paradise Pent, Dover.

This small synagogue was built here in about 1835, following a petition dated 2 November 1833 by Jacob Reuben and other members of the Jewish community to the Harbour Board for a lease of a piece of ground whereon to erect a synagogue.(vii) The synagogue had insufficient capacity for Dover's Jewish community as well as the pupils at the local Jewish boarding school (see below). Accordingly from November to April, services were frequently held at the school room of Sussex House, Folkestone Road.(viii)


Although the actual congregation was founded in about 1835 with the opening of the Paradise Pent synagogue, there were reports of previous congregations in the town, as early as 1710. One report was of three "gentlemen"(Samuel Moses, Elias Goldsmid and Elias Polack), who were in the habit of spending the summer months in Dover, founded a synagogue in about 1770, making Dover the oldest 'seaside Jewish community' in England.(x) This synagogue was a wooden building.(xi)


Closed during World War II(xii)


Ashkenazi Orthodox


The congregation was unaffiliated but is under the aegis of the Chief Rabbi.

Ministers and other Religious Officials serving in Dover: (To view a short profile of a name that appears in blue - hold the cursor over the name.)

Rabbi Ash of Dover - mohel from mid eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries(xvi)

Rev. Raphael Isaac Cohen - minister from about 1839 until 1865(xvii)

Rev. Heim Neumann - minister from about 1865 until about 1867 (or possibly 1871)(xviii)

Rev. Isidore Barnstein - minister from 1868 until about 1917(xix)

Thereafter the congregation relied on the services of the ministers from the Montefiore Synagogue and Theological College at Ramsgate, situated about 20 miles to the north of Dover. These included Rev. George S. Belasco, who held monthly Sunday services for Jewish soldiers and others at Dover in the 1920s and was available in emergencies,(xx) and Rev. Bernard J. Salomons,(xxi) who in the 1930s high holy days preached occasionally at Dover Synagogue.

Lay Officers:


W. Greenwald - c.1862(xxv)

H. Polak - c.1867-1886(xxvi)

Ald. Henry Hart - 1887-c.1917(xxvii)

Peter Hart, OBE - c.1924-1940s(xxviii)

Miscellaneous Office Holders

D. Barnard - warden, c.1855(xxxi)

N. Gruenwald - parnass, c.1859(xxxii)

H. Barras - gabbai, c.1859(xxxiii)

Rev. R.I. Cohen - parnass, c.1864(xxxiv)


Mr. Moses - c.1855(xxxvii)

A.L. Vanderlyn - c.1862(xxxviii)

Samuel Hart - c.1886-1908(xxxix)

Peter Hart - c.1909-c.1924(xl)

M.A.L. Lazarus - c.1924-1940s(xli)


1896-1900 - Rev. Isidore Barnstein(xlii)

Membership Data:

Chief Rabbi's Questionnaire

1845 - 4 Ba'alai batim.

Board of Deputies Returns - number of seatholders(xlvi)













Jewish Year Books(xlvii)
















Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database associated with Dover, Deal and Folkestone include:

1851 Anglo Jewry Database (updated 2016)

Individuals in the 1851 Anglo Jewry Database who were living in:
Dover during the 1760s (1 record), 1780s (7 records), 1790s (5 records), 1800s (5 records), 1810s (5 records), 1820s (12 records), 1830s (20 records), 1840s (24 records), 1850s (93 records), 1860s (19 records), 1870s (9 records) and 1880s (7 records);
Deal during the 1790s (1 record), 1800s (6 records), 1810s (15 records), 1820s (10 records), 1830s (1 record), 1840s (3 records), 1850s (13 records), 1860s (6 records) and 1900s (1 record); and
Folkestone during the 1780s (1 record), 1850s (2 records), 1860s (1 record), 1870s (2 records), 1880s (3 records), 1890s (1 record) and 1900s (1 record).


Online Articles, Photographs and Other Material
relating to the Dover Jewish Community


on Third Party websites


Notable Jewish Connections with Dover

  • Rabbi Dr Henry Barnston (1868-1949) leading Reform rabbi and scholar in Texas, USA was born Henry Barnstein in Dover, the son of Rev. I. Barnstein.

  • Joseph Joel Ellis (born Joseph Joel) (d.1885), a Leicestershire colliery owner, built a mansion at Westmount, Dover, known as Mount Ellis. The foundation stone was laid in 1865. (Dover Society article.)

  • Henry Hart (1833-1921), the notable Jewish alderman and three-times Mayor of Canterbury, later moved to Dover. He became a leading member of the community and shifted the center of operations to Dover. (Biography on J Trails)

  • Sir George Jessel (1824-1883) was Liberal MP for Dover (1868-73), and Solicitor General from 1871, until he resigned on his appointment as the first Jewish Master of the Rolls in 1873.

  • Miriam Margolyes (b.1941) actress, has a home in or near Dover.

  • Ralph Bernal Osborne (1802-1882), born Ralph Bernal, was MP for Dover (1857-59), in the course of a long Parliamentary career. He was born into a Sephardi family but his father, also an MP, was baptised and his mother wasn't Jewish.

  • Sir Alexander William Prince KBE (1870-1933) was educated in Dover and was in business there as wholesale provision dealer and naval and military contractor. He was Managing Director of the Navy and Army Canteen Board. He was knighted in 1916 and was awarded KBE in 1922. (Portrait.)


Other Dover Jewish Institutions & Organisations

Educational & Theological

  • Sussex House Academy for Jews, (previously known as the Victoria House Academy).  Situated at Victoria House, 10/11 High Street, Charlton, Dover (1842-47) and then at Sussex House, Folkestone Road, Dover, it was an important boarding school for Jewish boys, whose principal was Rev. Raphael Isaac Cohen.(l) Over 50 scholars were in residence at the time of the 1851 census, including some coming from as far afield as Gibraltar and North Africa. Israel Davis, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, was a former pupil. It was situated on the site of what became Westmount (see above).(li)
    1851 census entries for the college: https://british-jewry.org.uk/sussexhouse.php

  • Marine House School, boarding school for girls, situated at 35 Liverpool Street, Dover. It was founded in 1854 by Miss Therese Cohen, the elder of Rev. R.I. Cohen's two daughters. Her pupils included Lottie Moses, later Lady Hart, and Ellen Cohen, later Lady Swaythling.(lii)

  • Neumann's Hebrew Academy (founded about 1866 by Rev. H. Neumann and short-lived).(liii)

  • Dover Hebrew and Religious School (founded 1873), headmaster: Rev. Barnstein
    Number of pupils:(liv)





























  • Westbourne House School(lv) (also referred to as Mildmay Lodge School(lvi)), Folkestone Road, boarding school for boys (founded 1884), established by Rev. Barnstein.

  • Minerva College was a Jewish girls boarding school established in Dover in about 1890, by Fanny, Edythe and Flora Hart, daughters of Henry Hart JP, former Mayor of Canterbury. During World War I the school was moved to Holly Bank, Victoria Park, Leicester, to escape German bombing.(lvii)

Other Institutions & Organisations

  • Branch of Anglo-Jewish Association (founded 1887).(lx)

  • Dover Jewish Ladies Philanthropic Society (founded by 1874, but did not appear in Jewish Year Book of 1896 and later), for the relief of Jewish poor in Dover.(lxi)


Community Records

  • Synagogue Records:

  • Registration District (BMD): Kent (since 1 April 2003)

    • Previous Registration Districts:
         Dover (from 1 July 1837 to 1 April 1998); and
         Thanet & Dover (from 1 April 1898 to 1 April 2003)

    • Any registers would be held by the current register office.

    • Link to Register Office website


Dover Jewish Cemetery Information

There is a Jewish Cemetery in Dover:

  • Dover Hebrew Cemetery, Old Charlton Road, Copt Hill, Dover CT16. The walled cemetery, with its ohel (burial hall), was first used in 1868, the land having been provided by the Dover Harbour Board. It is now one of the "disused" Jewish cemeteries administered by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, although it is still in occasional use.
    The United Synagogue "Find a Grave" search facility at https://www.theus.org.uk/gravesearch enables one to search for a grave at this cemetery. The search result generally includes the date of burial, the grave position and a photograph of the gravestone, if available.

(For some additional information, also see IAJGS Cemetery Project - Dover)


Dover Jewish Population Data


9 households - 38 Jews

(J Trails section on Dover - History, p.4)


11 households - 45 Jews*

(J Trails section on Dover - History, p.4)



(The Jewish Year Book 1896/7)



(The Jewish Year Book 1897/8)



(The Jewish Year Book 1899/1900)



(The Jewish Year Book 1900/01)



(The Jewish Year Book 1902/3)



(The Jewish Year Book 1903/4)



(The Jewish Year Book 1905/6)



(The Jewish Year Book 1907/8)



(The Jewish Year Book 1909)



(The Jewish Year Book 1920)

* not including the 65 Jewish residents of the Sussex House Academy.


Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) Los judíos de España (The Jews in Spain) by Jose Amador de los Rios (1848).

  • (ii) Reserved.

  • (iii) Jewish Chronicle reports of 11 October 1861 and 1 November 1861.

  • (iv) Jewish Chronicle reports of 17 July 1863 and 14 August 1863. The The Jewish Directory for 1874, by Asher I. Myers, p.64 gives 10 September 1862 as the date the synagogue was founded.

  • (v) Jewish Chronicle report of 13 July 1945.

  • (vi) J Trails section on Dover - places of interest.

  • (vii) Section on "Dover" from The Rise of Provincial Jewry by Cecil Roth. The petition is now in the Jewish Museum, London.

  • (viii) Section on "Dover" from The Rise of Provincial Jewry by Cecil Roth and J Trails section on Dover - History, p.4..

  • (ix) Reserved

  • (x) Jewish Chronicle report referred to in the section on "Dover" from The Rise of Provincial Jewry by Cecil Roth.

  • (xi) J Trails section on Dover - History, p.2..

  • (xii) The congregation's last listing was in the Jewish Year Book 1940.

  • (xiii) to (xv) Reserved.

  • (xvi) The Circumcision Register of Rabbi Ash of Dover on JCR-UK..

  • (xvii) Various Jewish Chronicle reports.

  • (xviii) Jewish Chronicle reports.

  • (xix) Jewish Chronicle of 29 May 1868 reported on his appointment. He was listed as minister of the congregation in Jewish Year Books (first published 1896/7) until 1917. The only minister listed for the congregation.

  • (xx) Tribute to Rev. Belasco by Philip T Hart, president of the Dover synagogue, Jewish Chronicle 11 October 1929.

  • (xxi) Jewish Chronicle report 11 November 1932.

  • (xxii) to (xxiv) Reserved.

  • (xxv) Election reported in Jewish Chronicle of 17 October 1862. Could possibly be the N. Gruenwald elected parnass in 1859,

  • (xxvi) First reference to H. Polak as president was in the Jewish Chronicle of 8 November 1867. The Jewish Chronicle of 20 August 1886, reporting on his death, stated that he was "President and Treasurer of Dover Hebrew Congregation alternately for more than quarter of a century".

  • (xxvii) First reference to H. Hart as president was in the Jewish Chronicle of 9 December 1887. He is listed as president in Jewish Year Books from 1896/7 (the first such publication) through 1917. He died in 1921 and was the brother of Peter Hart and the father of Samuel Hart.

  • (xxviii) Listed as president in Jewish Year Books from 1925 until the congregation ceased to be listed. He was the brother of Henry Hart. He received his OBE in 1925

  • (xxix) and (xxx) Reserved.

  • (xxxi) Election as warden reported in Jewish Chronicle of 31 August 1855.

  • (xxxii) Election as parnass reported in Jewish Chronicle of 2 December 1859. Could possibly be the N. Greenwald elected president in 1862.

  • (xxxiii) Election as gabbai reported in the Jewish Chronicle of 2 December 1859. In the Jewish Chronicle of 24 October 1862 he is described as "the late President" of the congregation.

  • (xxxiv) Election as parnass and minhag reported in the Jewish Chronicle of 30 September 1862, the former office probably included akin to president and the latter office including that of treasurer. Rev. Cohen left Dover shortly afterwards

  • (xxxv) and (xxxvi) Reserved.

  • (xxxvii) Election as treasurer reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 31 August 1855.

  • (xxxviii) Election as treasurer reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 17 October 1862.

  • (xxxix) The Jewish Chronicle of 30 October 1908 refers to Samuel Hart leaving Dover after serving for 22 years as treasurer. He was the son of Henry Hart.

  • (xl) Election as treasurer first reported in The Jewish Chronicle of 4 November 1910. He was listed as treasurer of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1910 through 1924 (and was thereafter listed as president). He was the brother of Henry Hart.

  • (xli) Listed as treasurer of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1925 until the congregation ceased to be listed.

  • (xlii) Listed as secretary of the congregation in Jewish Year Books from 1896/7 (first publication) through 1917. There were no other listings of a secretary of the congregation. 

  • (xliii) to (xlv) Reserved.

  • (xlvi) Extracted from table in the section on Dover from "Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain".

  • (xlvii) Dates reflect the year of publication of the relevant Jewish Year Book.

  • (xlviii) and (xlix) Reserved.

  • (l) Various Jewish Chronicle reports.

  • (li) J Trails section on Dover - History, p.4.

  • (lii) The Jewish Chronicle report of 21 March 1862 and J Trails section on Dover - History, p.4.

  • (liii) The Jewish Chronicle report of 2 February 1866 and J Trails section on Dover - History, p.5.

  • (liv) Jewish Year Books 1896/7 through 1903/4.

  • (lv) First advertised in The Jewish Chronicle of 5 September 1884.

  • (lvi) J Trails section on Dover - History, p.7.

  • (lvii) Jewish Chronicle press reports and advertisement, including 10 January 1890 (first advert for Minerva College) and 27 February 1959 (death of "Miss Edythe") and J Trails section on Dover - History, p.8.

  • (lviii) and (lix) Reserved.

  • (lx) Jewish Year Book 1896/7.

  • (lxi) Jewish Directory for 1874.

List of Synagogues destroyed by German air raids during World War II

Jewish Congregations in Kent

Jewish Communities of England homepage

Page created: 27 November 2005
Data significantly expanded: 29 June 2017
Data further significantly expanded and notes first added: 17 November 2021
Latest revision or update: 23 November 2021

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