History in Structure

The Synagogue and Attached Gate

A Grade II* Listed Building in Brighton and Hove, The City of Brighton and Hove

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Latitude: 50.8212 / 50°49'16"N

Longitude: -0.143 / 0°8'34"W

OS Eastings: 530900

OS Northings: 104049

OS Grid: TQ309040

Mapcode National: GBR JP4.DP3

Mapcode Global: FRA B6LX.N45

Plus Code: 9C2XRVC4+FR

Entry Name: The Synagogue and Attached Gate

Listing Date: 20 August 1971

Last Amended: 26 August 1999

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1381796

English Heritage Legacy ID: 482160

Also known as: Middle Street Synagogue, Brighton

ID on this website: 101381796

Location: Brighton and Hove, West Sussex, BN1

County: The City of Brighton and Hove

Electoral Ward/Division: Regency

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Brighton and Hove

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Brighton St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

Tagged with: Synagogue Byzantine Revival architecture

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577-1/39/522 (East side)
20/08/71 The Synagogue and attached gate
(Formerly Listed as:
The Brighton Synagogue)


Synagogue. 1874-5. Designed by Thomas Lainson and built by
Messrs Cheeseman, for the Brighton Hebrew Congregation. Yellow
brick to the street front and brown to the sides and rear, set
in English bond, with dressings of stone and tile, roof
obscured by parapet; the internal construction of the body of
the synagogue is of iron.
EXTERIOR: the street front has windows on 3 levels, 8-window
range; the front is set out as three 2-window bays with
single-window recesses between, with the gabled upper part set
back above the bays. Ashlar plinth. Segmental-arched entrance
in central projecting bay, flanked by columns of pink polished
granite with foliage capitals, the archivolt inscribed with
Hebrew texts; ground- and first-floor windows round-arched and
flanked by engaged sandstone columns with foliage capitals,
the heads formed of glazed voussoir bricks in blue, red and
black; stepped brick cornice above first floor; the upper part
of this gabled front has a wheel window with the Tablets of
the Law above, and is flanked by pairs of short stone
pilasters; corniced gable. The north and south sides have 6
pairs of round-arched windows at each level, each pair set in
a stone surround under a round arch with chamfered reveals of
yellow brick; clerestory windows round-arched, in 6 groups of
4. Canted apse to east end. Elaborate iron gate to passage on
south side.
INTERIOR: the body of the synagogue is galleried on the north,
west and south sides, and of 5 bays; the columns here and
elsewhere are of iron covered with scagliola; men's seats on
the ground floor, women's seats in the galleries. The Ark is
set in the central facet of the apse behind elaborate
wrought-iron gates of 1905; the lower walls of the apse
decorated with mosaic, and the upper with densely patterned
plasterwork in low relief, the 3 facets of the apse divided by
slim engaged columns supporting the ribs of the vault, which
is filled with stained glass of 1888; the apse is framed by an
arch, consisting of columns one above the other with
neo-Byzantine capitals supporting a round-arched inner order,
the outer order inscribed with texts and arabesques; a pair of
round-arched windows above the apse. The Ark steps are
semicircular in plan, the steps themselves of marble, the rest
paved with terrazzo and surrounded by elaborate brass rails of
The galleries are carried on columns one above the other, the
capitals carved with fruits mentioned in the Bible, and there
are openwork balustrades of iron and brass between them at
ground floor and gallery level; at gallery level the columns
are part of a round-arched arcade. At the west end, a central,
flat-arched doorway, with brass gates originally enclosing the
Ark; at gallery level the west doorway is flat-arched with
pilasters and archivolt, the tympanum decorated with carving
and mosaic. Pitched roof carried on round arches to each bay,
the arches on foliage corbels.
Floor of black and white marble in central space. Perpetual
lamp of silver above the Ark steps. Brass pulpit decorated
with openwork arabesques. Hanucah Menorah of brass on a column
base, below Ark steps. The Bima has a wooden base surmounted
by elaborate cast-iron railings, with brass rails and finials
to standards, and 4 cast-iron lamp standards, the brasswork
dating from 1892; the entrance to the Bima is at the west end
rather than at the sides, an early example of this
arrangement; the reading desk itself is of wood with columns
at the re-entrant corners, panels of scagliola and a carved
frieze; warden's seats in front of the Bima of wood, decorated
in the form of consoles, with a brass balustrade in front.
Original men's and women's seating of stained pine. Painted
decoration echoing the arcading of galleries and windows, and
panelling of ceilings, dating from 1945 or earlier,
refurbished on the ground floor in 1991. 3 pairs of metal
electroliers in the central space and 10 on the ground floor
and in galleries, of 1892, making this the first synagogue in
Britain to be lit by electric light.
The windows in the north, south and east walls are flanked by
engaged columns with foliage capitals. All the windows in the
synagogue are filled with non-figurative stained glass of
consistent design: west window and 2 other lights at the west
end probably of 1887; those on the north and south sides on
the ground floor of c1895 except the westernmost which are of
1912, as are the 2 westernmost in the women's gallery; 2
windows at the east end of the north gallery, 1896. A good
deal of the glass was repaired in the 1960s.
Vestibule at west end with encaustic-tile floor and staircase
with fluted newel, slim cast-iron balusters, wreathed and
ramped rail and open string.
The unusually sumptuous interior of the synagogue reflects not
so much the size of the Jewish community in Brighton, as the
popularity of Brighton as a holiday resort among Jewish
people, and the pious gifts of the Sassoon family who
presented some of the elaborate fittings and stained glass.
The architect, Thomas Lainson, was surveyor to the Wick Estate
in Hove.
(The Churches of Brighton: Volume II, Part XV: London and
Brighton; Spector D: Middle Street Synagogue (duplicated

Listing NGR: TQ3090004049

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