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Coventry Synagogue and Rabbi's House

A Grade II Listed Building in Sherbourne, Coventry

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Latitude: 52.4099 / 52°24'35"N

Longitude: -1.5212 / 1°31'16"W

OS Eastings: 432663

OS Northings: 279208

OS Grid: SP326792

Mapcode National: GBR HBM.S4

Mapcode Global: VHBWY.LP4F

Entry Name: Coventry Synagogue and Rabbi's House

Listing Date: 18 June 2009

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393332

English Heritage Legacy ID: 504695

Location: Coventry, CV1

County: Coventry

Electoral Ward/Division: Sherbourne

Built-Up Area: Coventry

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Coventry St John Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Coventry

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Listing Text


833/0/10157 BARRAS LANE
18-JUN-09 Coventry Synagogue and Rabbi's House

A synagogue and rabbi's house of 1870, designed by Thomas Naden of Birmingham, of red brick with blue brick and painted stone dressings and a plain tile roof in a simplified Romanesque style. The connected grouping of two-storeyed rabbi's house, synagogue and connecting vestibule face onto Barras Lane and Gloucester Street. The rabbis house is set at the corner (south west).

EXTERIOR: There are flush bands of blue brick at the level of the sills and springing of the arches to both floors. The front to Gloucester Street has a door at left with fanlight and paired, arched lights to the right of this. Similarly paired windows are directly above at first floor level rising into a gable and there are two small lights to the left. The front to Barras Lane has the rabbi's house at right with paired lights at left and a single light at right to both floors, set beneath gables. Recessed at left of this is a vestibule with mosaic tiling at ground floor level dating from the alterations of c.1964. To the first floor are paired round-arched lights, set beneath a gablet. Projecting at left again is the body of the synagogue, with four bays divided by offset buttresses. To each bay is a two-light window with round relieving arch and oculus to the apex. There is scalloped decoration at eaves level. To the roof are four gabled dormers.

INTERIOR: The interior of the synagogue is divided into bays by wooden trusses, which are cusped and have cut-out decoration and rest on stone corbels which include detached columns. The ark lies to the centre of the north eastern wall (ritual east) and is set in a recess with pilasters to either side and an arched overthrow with central oculus window which features a stained glass representation of the luhot (tablets of the law) with a star of David. The ark itself is of painted and gilded wood. The bimah is placed immediately in front. Pews in the body of the synagogue, at either side of the bimah and in the gallery, are of timber with chevron boarding to their backs. There are C20 stained glass windows by Hardman Studios to the sides, some of which have been removed following the closure of the synagogue.

HISTORY: The Jewish community in Coventry first met in a timber-framed medieval building in the lost Great Butcher Row. This was the home of Isaac Cohen, which was demolished in 1936. They then met at rooms off Derby Lane, now also demolished, and then Fleet Street. By the middle of the C19 they were in upper rooms of a house at 16, Spon Street, and moved to Barras Lane in 1870 when the present synagogue was built, together with an adjacent rabbi's house. At that time there were only around fifty men and boys, and by 1890 the congregation had shrunk to just six contributing members. It closed shortly afterwards, but re-opened in 1906, though still struggling numerically. By 1964 the Jewish population was around 240, but numbers appear to have dwindled since. Sharman Kadish (see SOURCES) records the synagogue as built in 1870 on a modest scale, according to a limited budget, by the Birmingham architect Thomas Naden. The building had a Mikveh (ritual bath) in the basement of the hall, which is now disused and has been boarded over. Post-war alterations to the gallery and a reconstruction of the porch and vestibule were carried out by G.N. Jackson in 1964.

SOURCE: Sharman Kadish, Jewish Heritage in England: An architectural guide, (2006), 123-4.

The synagogue, Barras Lane, Coventry is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* This is a good survival of a rare building type.
* It is largely intact and retains its original seating, ark alcove and bimah.
* The architectural treatment of this modest building is well-handled, with a light and spacious interior and appropriate embellishment.
* The constituent parts of the original building - synagogue, rabbi's house and vestibule - are all present.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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