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Latitude: 51.5683 / 51°34'5"N
Longitude: -0.2002 / 0°12'0"W
OS Eastings: 524836
OS Northings: 187025
OS Grid: TQ248870
Mapcode National: GBR C4.VK8
Mapcode Global: VHGQK.HV03
Entry Name: Golders Green Synagogue
Listing Date: 21 May 2007
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1393834
English Heritage Legacy ID: 508746
Location: Barnet, London, NW11
Electoral Ward/Division: Childs Hill
Built-Up Area: Barnet
Traditional County: Middlesex
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London
Church of England Parish: All Saints Childs Hill
Church of England Diocese: London
31/0/10487 DUNSTAN ROAD
Golders Green Synagogue
Synagogue, begun 1921 by Digby Lewis Soloman (d.1962) and main hall completed 1925 by Ernest Martin Joseph (1877-1960), extended with classrooms, vestibule and portico in 1927 by Joseph. Red brick with rubbed red brick quoins and window surrounds, stone dressings and Portland stone portico. Shallow hipped roofs with central circular roof lantern. Timber sashes, and some metal-framed sashes. A traditional Neo-Georgian style externally with a lavish Italianate interior.
EXTERIOR: To Dunstan Road (north), the composition is of three parts. From left (east), a tall section defined by an open stone pediment on shallow pilasters with flat stone capped parapet behind and a tripartite arrangement of windows within. The east end of this section is largely blank with gently curved walls to a projecting east end (holding the Ark). The windows have plain slightly recessed surrounds with simple stone cills on brackets and there is a continuous stone balustraded parapet. The central section of the synagogue is of three wide bays with a shallow pyramidal hipped roof; segmental-headed windows at ground floor (the apron to one of these is a stone foundation plaque of the 1927 extension), above which are round-headed, small-pane windows at first floor, all with red brick surrounds and keyblock, then a continuous stone cornice; the right bay is set back and features the prominent stone portico that has a rectangular-plan column with entasis paired with a circular column to each side, and engaged columns behind; there is a balustraded stone parapet above the cornice. The shallow end bay to right (west) is lower with blind windows of similar form. To the south side at the east end, a similar open pediment and tripartite arrangement, but plainer and all of brick, then similar windows to the middle section. The far west end has a number of windows and doors all under similar red rubbed brick arches with keyblocks. A more utilitarian flat-roofed office extension to the south-west side has later-C20 windows and is of lesser interest.
INTERIOR: The interior of the main hall is the most impressive part of the building, for its scale, arrangement and quality of its fittings. The interior is defined by a continuous gallery on three sides, the hall wider at the east end, and supported by paired Doric order columns at ground floor and Ionic at first floor. The earliest range to the west has steel supports, but the 1927 eastwards extension is supported with a concrete cantilever. The walls are lined with oak panelling. The original oak bench seating (for around 1000 people) largely survives throughout the main hall. There is a continuous dentilled cornice and a triglyph frieze along the front of the gallery. The ceiling is barrel-vaulted with dentil plasterwork, and there are semi-circular clerestory windows between each bay of the ceiling on the north and south sides. The main hall is lit by a central lantern (although the plasterwork around it fell in 2006). There is an extensive collection of colourful stained glass windows, much dating from the late 1920s, featuring memorials to past members of the synagogue and biblical themed scenes. A windows to north wall illustrates the unbuilt 1919 design for Patrick Geddes' Mount Scopus campus that opened in 1925.
The east end houses the Ark, the main focus of the building in architectural and worship terms. This comprises a polished oak temple front featuring 6 pilasters that have Corinthian capitals and a continuous dentilled cornice, featuring Hebrew lettering in the frieze, and also in the upper level below the cornice (Isaiah 2:3 translated as 'For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem'). Behind the curtain are 1970s secure doors holding the Torah scrolls. The Ark is set on a raised platform reached by an elaborate polished red-veined Sienna marble wall, pair of curved steps and central pulpit, an altogether lavish feature and dating from 1926. The central Bimah was added in 1978, placed centrally in the European, orthodox tradition (instead of at the east end).
The vestibule features a pair of columns at each end and a continuous cornice and frieze. This long space contains a number of plaques and a pair elaborate oak doorcases with scrolled brackets leading into the hall, and a further one at the south side. There is a stair with a metal geometric balustrade to the upper floor, where there is a classroom which has a part-glazed partition and a central ridge lantern.
HISTORY: Golders Green is a suburban area of north-west London that developed rapidly from 1907, when the terminus of the Hampstead railway opened. A large number of Jewish families came to the area from other parts of London and it was soon realised that a purpose-built synagogue was required to serve the growing Jewish population in the area. From 1914, the Jewish Religious Union had begun to establish a branch in the Golders Green area, and several 'Reform' or 'Liberal' services were held, but the local preference was for an orthodox traditional synagogue. By the end of the First World War there were estimated to be about 300 Jewish families in the area and the decision was taken to build a synagogue affiliated with the United Synagogue on a site acquired in Dunstan Road. The committee commissioned the well-established Jewish architect, Digby Soloman to design the building and the foundations stone was laid on 16th October 1921 by the Chairman of the building Committee, Lionel de Rothschild.
The synagogue was consecrated the following year but the main hall was not completed until 1925, by then under the supervision of a different architect, equally well-established in the Jewish community, Ernest Joseph. Joseph's completed hall was 15' wider than that began by Soloman, to enable clearer views and employing cantilevered concrete balconies freeing up floor space and sight lines, and he also added an extension at the west end in 1927, comprising a vestibule and classrooms within a stone portico. The completed building was consecrated in 1927 and there is a stone foundation plaque identifying the officials at that time. Later, separate, buildings to the south of the site include the Joseph Freedman Hall of 1939 and the nursery of 1958 by Ivor Warner. These are not included in the listing.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The special interest of the 1921-27 Golders Green Synagogue resides in its historic interest as the first and major synagogue in this area, which rapidly developed as one of the most significant Jewish neighbourhoods in C20 London and where its discrete traditional Neo-Georgian exterior, designed by two of the best known Jewish architects in this period, was intended to blend in with the architecture of the area; and for its particularly impressive interior, seen in the building's scale and spatial qualities as well as the quality and intactness of its fittings.
'Architect and Building News' Dec. 30th 1927, 975-9
History of the Golders Green Synagogue (1947)
Sharman Kadish, Jewish Heritage in England: An Architectural Guide. English Heritage (2006)
This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.
Golders Green Synagogue, 41 Dunstan Road, is recommended for designation for the following principal reason:
*The special interest of the 1921-27 Golders Green Synagogue resides in its historic interest as the first and major synagogue in this area, which rapidly developed as one of the most significant Jewish neighbourhoods in C20 London and where its discrete traditional Neo-Georgian exterior, designed by two of the best known Jewish architects in this period, was intended to blend in with the architecture of the area; and for its particularly impressive interior, seen in the building's scale and spatial qualities as well as the quality and intactness of its fittings.
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