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Heritage cash props up crumbling historic synagogue

PUBLISHED: 00:57 13 May 2009 | UPDATED: 14:21 05 October 2010

Inside historic Sandys Row synagogue

Inside historic Sandys Row synagogue

AN HISTORIC Grade II-listed synagogue tucked away in the back streets of London’s East End has been given £254,000 by English Heritage to save it from collapse. The cash is needed to prop up’ the roof of the 250-year-old Sandys Row Synagogue, the oldest surviving Ashkenazi Jewish house of worship in Britain

By Mike Brooke

AN HISTORIC Grade II-listed synagogue tucked away in the back streets of London’s East End has been given £254,000 by English Heritage today to save it from collapse.

The cash is needed to prop up’ the roof of the 250-year-old Sandys Row Synagogue behind Liverpool Street station, the oldest surviving Ashkenazi Jewish house of worship in Britain.

The Lottery Heritage grant, the largest ever given to a Grade II-listed synagogue, was announced today (Tuesday) along with funds for six London churches including three in East London.

COLLAPSE

“Without the grant, the oldest Askenazi synagogue in London and one of the oldest in the country would be in danger of collapse,” said synagogue board member Jack Gilbert.

“Now the Hugeunot roof and walls will reach its 250th anniversary in 2013 and beyond.”

The early Georgian building in the narrow Sandys Row, just off the famous Petticoat Lane, was originally a Hugeunot chapel opened in 1766 by Dutch immigrants working in the tobacco industry. It retains many 18th century architectural features—including the original roof.

ROTTING SUPPORTS

The Heritage fund has arrived in the nick of time, according to conservation architect Anthony Walker, of DLG Architects in nearby Brick Lane, who led the synagogue’s team of advisors.

“We discovered two of the four corner roof supports were completely rotten,” he revealed. “The entire Huguenot structure was being held up by just the 18th Century ceiling plasterwork!”

The interior, with its splendid galleries, has changed little since the 19th century.

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks and Jewish Board of Deputies urged to English Heritage to save the unique, national cultural importance of Sandys Row Synagogue to Britain’s Jewish community.


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