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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Cheltenham Synagogue is a synagogue in Cheltenham noted for its Regency architecture. It is an independent congregation located in the town centre on North Street at the Royal Crescent.

Nikolaus Pevsner judges that the Cheltenham Synagogue is one of the architecturally "best" non-Anglican ecclesiastical buildings in Britain.[1]

Contents

History

The congregation first met in about 1820 in a hired space at the St. George's Place entrance to Manchester Walk.[2][3] The cornerstone for the synagogue was laid by the Cheltenham lodge of Freemasons on 25 July 1837.[4] Founded when Cheltenham was a popular spa town, the synagogue declined with the town itself and it was closed in 1909.[5][6] It reopened in 1939 to serve evacuees being housed in London, refugees form Nazi-occupied Europe and soldiers stationed in nearby bases, including a number of Americans.[7]

Architecture

The elegant Regency building was designed by architect William Henry Knight (1837-9) who also designed the Cheltenham Public Library, now the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum.[8]

The synagogue's chaste, Regency facade features Doric pilasters and a pediment. The interior features a coffered saucer dome - a typically Regency feature. At the centre of the dome a lantern made by Nicholas Adam provides natural light. The Georgian Torah Ark and Bimah are reused elements of the London New Synagogue of 1761, that congregation was in the process of building a new building in Great St. Helen's designed by John Davies and dedicated in 1838. The cost of wagon freight form London was £86.[9]

A number of unusual elements of the original furnishings survive. Among these are the original rattan upholstery of the pews and bimah seats, and the prayer boards. One has the Yom Kippur prayers and the other has the prayer for the welfare of Queen Victoria. Victoria's name is superimposed over the names of previous British monarchs, the earliest of which is George II.[10]

The synagogue is a Grade II* listed building.

References

  1. ^ The Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin Books, 1951, p. 37
  2. ^ Norman's history of Cheltenham, John Goding, Longman, 1863, p. 472.
  3. ^ A panoramic sketch of Cheltenham and its environs, Alfred Landseer, Longman, 1828, p. 40.
  4. ^ Norman's history of Cheltenham, John Goding, Longman, 1863, p. 472.
  5. ^ A history of Cheltenham, Gwen Hart, A. Sutton, 1981, p. 218.
  6. ^ http://www.cheltenhamsynagogue.org.uk/History.htm
  7. ^ http://www.cheltenhamsynagogue.org.uk/History.htm
  8. ^ Sharman Kadish , Jewish Heritage in England : An Architectural Guide, English Heritage, 2006, pp. 100-101
  9. ^ Sharman Kadish , Jewish Heritage in England : An Architectural Guide, English Heritage, 2006, pp. 100-101
  10. ^ Sharman Kadish, Jewish Heritage in England : An Architectural Guide, English Heritage, 2006, pp. 100-101

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