JCR-UK is a genealogical and historical website covering all Jewish communities and
congregations throughout the British Isles and Gibraltar, both past and present.
Town of East Grinstead
The town of East Grinstead in southeast England,
with a population of some 26,000, is in the north-eastern corner of the local government district of Mid Sussex,
near the borders with East Sussex, Kent and Surrey. It is now in the administrative county of West Sussex.
East Grinstead was an urban district in the administrative county of East Sussex until 1974, when it was merged with other localities, also in East Sussex,
to form Mid Sussex and transferred to West Sussex.
East Grinstead Jewish Community
An organised Jewish community was established at the end of the 1970s, but
it appears now to be defunct.
East Grinstead and District Jewish Community(ii)
East Grinstead Jewish Community, until about 1984.(iii)
No fixed address.
Services were frequently held in the homes of members. During the early 1980s,
services were held (then about once a month) at a local hall hired for the occasion and,
for the High Holy-days services, the services were held at East Grinstead Friends Meeting
This was later also used for regular services, when not held
in members' homes.(vi)
On at least one occasion the services
were held at the Gatwick Airport Interdenominational Centre.(vii)
In 1982, the community announced its intention to look
for a synagogue(viii)
a building fund was launched, but there is no report to suggest it ever acquired its own premises.
Formed at a meeting held in April 1978,(xi)
although it was already listed (as unaffiliated) in "Synagogue Affiliation in the United Kingdom
1977" compiled by the Research Unit of the Board of Deputies' (see below).
Ritual and Affiliation:
The community was traditional Ashkenazi
Orthodox but also with a reform base. One of the initiators of the
community in 1978 was looking to establish a Reform congregation,(xii)
although the inaugural meeting was chaired by Rev. Malcolm Weisman, the
(Orthodox) minister for Small Communities,(xiii)
who was also a frequent visiting minister. There had, however, also been visiting
ministers from the Reform(xiv)
and Liberal Movements,(xv)
and the children at the Hebrew classes were taught by the Lubavitch director for small communities.(xvi)
The community was by choice non-aligned, as reiterated by a
letter to The Jewish Chronicle in April 1980.(xvii)
Although the community was last listed in Jewish
Year Books in 2014, it appears to have ceased activities some time
earlier - the last reference to the community in the Jewish Chronicle archive is 2004
although no report was found confirming the date the community was wound up.
However, it was still listed in the "JPR Reports of Synagogue
Membership in 2010 and 2016" (see below) (where it was
described as "Central Orthodox").
Relationship with Nearby Communities:
Members of the East Grinstead community came from a wide catchment area, incorporating
(in addition, to East Grinstead) Crowborough and Forest Row in Sussex and Tunbridge
Wells, Tonbridge and Edenbridge in Kent.(vi)
(In 1995, it was reported that the community in
Tunbridge Wells had some time previously merged with
In 1996 the East Grinstead Jewish community and
Hastings Jewish Society combined for some of the High Holy-day services conducted
jointly by their respective chairmen, Manny Godfrey and Dr Bruce Eton.(xix)
In 1999 David Morrison-Wilpred, life president of the East Grinstead Jewish community,
sought to establish a formal affiliation between it and the
Eastbourne Synagogue and the Hastings Jewish Society.
In December it was announced that the Eastbourne Synagogue had expanded its ties with other Sussex communities, and Manny Godfrey,
chairman of the East Grinstead community, had become a member.(xx)
None appointed, although
Rev. Malcolm Weisman,
the minister for Small Communities, was a frequent visiting minister.
1978-1979 - Fred Eichner(xxi)
1979-1980 - David J. Morrison-Wilpred(xxii)
1980-1981 - Manny Morris(xxiii)
1981-1982 - S. Jacobi(xxiv)
1982-1984 - Emanuel (Manny) Godfrey(xxv)
1984 to at least 1985 - J. Lamont(xxvi)
late 1980s - Emanuel (Manny) Godfrey(xxvii)
1979 to at least 1983 - Fred Eichner(xxx)
by 1989 to at least 1990s - David J. Morrison-Wilpred
1981-c.1983 - David J. Morrison-Wilpred
1983-c.1984 - Laurie Rosenberg(xxxv)
1985-2000s - Emanuel (Manny) Godfrey(xxxvi)
1979-1983 - L. Shamplina
jointly with J. Morris)(xxxvii)
1983-1984 - J. Lamont(xxxviii)
1984-1985 - L. Shamplina
about 1989 - Michael Goldin(xl)
1978-1982 - David J. Morrison-Wilpred(xlii)
1982-1983 - T. Diamant-Miller(xliii)
1985-1988 - Mrs. V. Moss(xliv)
1988-1990 - Mrs. J. Goldin(xlv)
1990-1996 - Mrs. J. Wartenberg(xlvi)
1978-c.1979 - Mrs. Carol Offer
& Mrs. Sue Morris(xlix)
1980-1981 - S.J. Jacobi(l)
1981-1982 - Mrs. R. Bennet(li)
1982-1983 - Mrs. Sue Morris(lii)
1983-1985 - Mrs. Mura-Lynn Vyner(liii)
Jewish Chronicle Reports
National Reports and Surveys(lxii)
1977 - 15 male (or household) members and 2 female members
1983 - 30 male (or household) members and 5 female members
1990 - 15 members (comprising 13 households
and 2 individual female members)
1996 - 20 members (comprising 11 households, 1 individual male and 8 individual female members)
2010 & 2016 - listed as having under 50 members (by household)
Former Charitable Status:
The community was a registered charity (no
288189) registered on 30 January 1984.(lxv)
Registration District (BMDs):
West Sussex, since 1 April 2010(lxvi) -
Link to Register Office Website
Burial Arrangements and Cemetery:
In 1990, the community signed an agreement with the Jewish Joint Burial Society (JJBS)
administered by the North-Western Reform Synagogue, Golders Green - giving members full access to the society's burial
There is no Jewish cemetery in East Grinstead.
Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the
East Grinstead Jewish Community
Notable Jewish Connections with East Grinstead
Elaine Blond OBE (1902-1985) and her second husband
Neville Blond OBE CMG (1896-1970):
Elaine and Neville Blond moved to East Grinstead during World War II and
made their home at Gotwick Manor, Hammerwood, a hamlet about four miles east of East Grinstead.
Elaine was the daughter of Michael Marks, the founder of Marks & Spencer. She was a worker for the Refugee Childrens' Movement
in the 1930s and 1940s, and Life President of the Federation of Women Zionists. Her memoirs,
Marks of Distinction, was published posthumously (1999).
Neville Blond was a textile manufacturer and philanthropist.
He was Major in the Royal Horse Guards during World War I (awarded Croix de Guerre and Legion d'Honneur)
and RAF wing commander during World War II and later served in the war-time Ministry of Production. He was UK Trade Advisor to the USA after the war.
First chairman of the English Stage Company based at the Court Theatre, London.
The Blond McIndoe Centre for Medical Research at
East Grinstead which opened in 1960, was a world-renowned medical research institute
which pioneered treatments for severe burns injuries. Elaine and Neville Blond, friends of the surgeon, Sir Archibald McIndoe,
were founding patrons and principal fundraisers for the centre. The couple also funded research fellowships and treatment
centres at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead. (See
on the Centre's website.)
Elaine's daughter from her first marriage to Norman Laski,
Dame Simone Prendergast DBE DL JP, (1930-2012) lived at Saint Hill, East Grinstead during World War II.
A prominent political figure in the Conservative Party in Westminster and London, she became chair of the Blond Mclndoe Centre for Medical Research at East Grinstead.
Neil Gaiman (b.1960), author of novels, comic books, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films, moved to East Grinstead as a child in 1965.
Sara Gibbs, a British comedy script writer and autism advocate, grew up in East Grinstead.
Alice Lucas (1851-1935), poet, Hebrew and German translator and community worker, lived for a time at Bramblehurst, East Grinstead.
Her son, Dr. Nathaniel Lucas (d.1968), whose home was at Bramblehurst, held a number of communal positions,
including president of the Jewish Religious Education Board and chair of the Singers' Prayer Book publication committee.
Denzel Sebag-Montefiore (1914-1996), president of the World Sephardi Federation, hosted occasional events for the East Grinstead community
at his home in Fordcombe, Kent, about 10 miles from East Grinstead.
Other East Grinstead Jewish Institutions &
Educational & Theological
Hebrew and Religious Classes -
first organised in October 1978 under the auspices of the Jewish Memorial
In 1982, there were 25 pupils who attended the classes on Sunday mornings at a local language centre.
taught by Rabbi I. Sufrin, the Lubavitch director for small communities, as well as a member of the community
During World War II, Apsley House,
two miles from East Grinstead, was used
by Jewish refugees as a training farm to prepare for
agricultural settlement in what became the state of
Israel. The farm, which consisted of two houses and
an estate, was presented by a Christian, Mr Ian
Anderson, and was opened in February 1939 to house
an initial cohort of 12 refugee boys. It was
reported that up to 150 refugees were to be placed
at the East Grinstead farm.(lxxii)
East Grinstead Jewish Population Data
(The Jewish Year Book 1980)
(The Jewish Year Book 1989)
Notes & Sources
(↵ returns to text above)
Jewish Congregations in West Sussex
List of Member Synagogues of the Jewish Joint Burial Society
Jewish Communities of England homepage
Page created: 22 March 2003
Data significantly expanded and
notes first added: 19 August 2022
Page most recently amended: 28
Research by David Shulman and Steven Jaffe
Formatting by David Shulman
Explanation of Terms |
About JCR-UK |
JCR-UK home page
Contact JCR-UK Webmaster:
Terms and Conditions, Licenses and Restrictions for the use of this website:
This website is
owned by JewishGen and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. All
material found herein is owned by or licensed to us. You may view, download, and
print material from this site only for your own personal use. You may not post
material from this site on another website without our consent. You may not
transmit or distribute material from this website to others. You may not use
this website or information found at this site for any commercial purpose.
Copyright © 2002 - 2022 JCR-UK. All Rights Reserved