History in Structure

The Shul, Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation Synagogue

A Grade II Listed Building in Central, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

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Latitude: 50.7213 / 50°43'16"N

Longitude: -1.8716 / 1°52'17"W

OS Eastings: 409161

OS Northings: 91309

OS Grid: SZ091913

Mapcode National: GBR X83.MN

Mapcode Global: FRA 67Z5.DPW

Plus Code: 9C2WP4CH+G9

Entry Name: The Shul, Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation Synagogue

Listing Date: 30 January 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1452943

ID on this website: 101452943

Location: Bournemouth, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, Dorset, BH1

County: Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Bournemouth

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Tagged with: Synagogue Art Nouveau Moorish Revival architecture


The Shul, Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation Synagogue of 1910-1911 by Lawson and Reynolds and 1957-1962 by AE Green and MG Cross.


Synagogue of 1910 to 1911, designed by Lawson and Reynolds in a Moorish-Revival style, altered and extended in 1957 to 1962 by AE Green and MG Cross.

MATERIALS: red brick with ashlar dressings, under a pitched slate and domed lead roof.

PLAN: an eight-bay long Shul (of 1911, extended 1962), orientated roughly south-west to north-east, with the Ark at the southern end and a tower to the north.

EXTERIOR: the main (east) elevation consists of a decorative eight-bay long Shul with a wavy roofline above. Seven of the bays contain windows; the four to the right are the original 1911 windows and the three to the left were added with the same design as part of the 1962 phase. Each bay has a three-light stone-mullion window with a distinctive horseshoe-shaped leaded window with glazing bars in the shape of the Star of David above it. The bays are divided by square columns topped by projecting-brick detailing and ashlar capitals. At the north end of the Shul is a square tower topped by a lead dome and with square columns to each corner. At ground-floor level the former main entrance has been replaced with a plain horizontally-placed window with four reset foundation stones beneath dated 1911 and 1961, of which one was placed by the Chief Rabbi, Israel Brodie; at first-floor level is a four-light transom and mullion window with a decorative mosaic (added in 1962), above which is an openwork screen of yellow stone at parapet level, cut in a distinctive fishbone pattern. Attached to the north end is the Gertrude Preston Hall. The building’s west elevation sits behind the 1970s Muscat Centre. The windows in this elevation are in the same design as those to the east. There is a single window at the elevation’s southern end. The rest of the elevation projects forward, with canted sides and a slanted roof rising up to a parapet, and contains five windows. The south elevation is topped by a gabled end with a transom window and includes a flat-roofed, single-storey addition which incorporates a side entrance. The main part of the building has a pitched roof with a small leaded lantern near the centre of the ridge.

INTERIOR: the Shul is accessed internally at ground- and first-floor levels via glazed-timber doors in the vestibule in Gertrude Preston Hall. The interior of the Shul was first laid out in 1910-1911, and re-ordered and extended in 1962. It has a ribbed barrel-vaulted ceiling with large decorative curved brackets supporting the gallery. The marble Ark (1962) with mosaic surround, created by Florentine craftsmen, and dais and railings, matches the Bimah (1962) adorned with four early-C20 tall candelabra that formerly stood at the corners of the Edwardian Bimah. The ground-floor seating area was extended in 1962 to the south and west with the new extensions, and the addition of the ladies-seating area within the former entrance lobby. The gallery, adapted and extended in 1962, has decorative railings with a gilded, circular motif. Formerly the rails to the gallery were topped by two decorative rows of a circular pattern, but following the extension works the rail was extended by using one of the rows for the new sections of the gallery in order to ensure a continuous design. All of the mahogany pews in the 1962 extensions match those in the 1911 sections. It has been suggested that all of the pews were replaced in the 1960s; however, the original pews may have been retained and reconfigured. The synagogue contains some stained glass. The early-C20 stained-glass window that was set above the original Ark survives and was reset above the new Ark, as is the case with the horseshoe-shaped windows with the Star of David to the west elevation. The windows include pastel-coloured leaded glass. Elsewhere the leaded windows are adorned with floral motifs. Those windows that have been replaced from the 1920s onwards, to both east and west elevations, display distinctive designs in vibrant colours, showing scenes from the Torah and other abstract designs, and are dedicated to former members of the congregation.


The Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation was first established in 1905, and held services at the Belle Vue Assembly Rooms in Bournemouth. By 1910 the congregation included around 50 families and this number swelled during the summer season, Bournemouth has been described as 'British Jewry's favourite holiday town' (Kadish). The congregation decided to build their own synagogue and in 1909 it bought a piece of land at Wootton Gardens, just off Old Christchurch Road. The new synagogue, designed by the local architects and developers, Lawson and Reynolds, in 1910 and built by J and W Hayward, also a local firm, was opened in 1911. Due to the parameters of the plot the building was aligned south-west to north-east, rather than the more common south-east orientation towards Jerusalem. It accommodated 130 worshippers in the body of the synagogue, with provision for a further 140 (females) in the gallery, and there was a vestry to the north. Lawson (former mayor to Bournemouth) and Reynolds were reputable local architects who a few years earlier had designed the Wesley Methodist Hall and Sunday Schools in Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth (Grade II). In 1923 the vestry was converted and extended to form a schoolroom with a kitchen, cloakroom and entrance added at its north end, to a design by local architects Reynolds and Tomlins.

In 1957, as the Congregation had expanded to around 900 worshippers, the synagogue was further extended to a design by the local architects AE Green and MG Cross. The position of the Ark was moved further southwards in order to create a further four bays, and the west elevation was extended to create additional seating on the ground floor and in the gallery. The seating area was also extended north into the tower; the main entrance was blocked, and the vestibules on both floors were incorporated into the prayer hall to provide further seating in the gallery and a further ladies-seating area on the ground floor. A new main entrance was created on the north side of the tower, the schoolroom was given an additional floor topped by a flat roof, and was renamed the Gertrude Preston Hall after the former Chairman of the Ladies Guild. The synagogue was re-opened in September 1962.

In 1970 the Congregation bought the neighbouring Windsor Hotel in Glenfern Road to the west, which was subsequently demolished and replaced in 1974 with the Murray Muscat Centre (3 Glenfern Road), designed by the architect Geoffrey Anders and named after the former Trustee and Honorary Solicitor of the Congregation. In 1974, following the closure of the Mikveh at the municipal Piers Approach Bath, a new Mikveh was built to the north side of the Synagogue, which was opened in June 1976 by Rabbi Silberg.

Reasons for Listing

The Shul, Bournemouth synagogue, of 1910-1911 by Lawson and Reynolds and 1957-1962 by AE Green and MG Cross is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
Architectural interest:

* for the coherence of its design as realised;
* for the quality of its lively Moorish-revival style, reflecting the Orientalism embraced by the Jewish communities for synagogues at the end of the C19 and updating it with Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts details;
* good quality fixtures and fittings;
* as a good example of an early to mid-C20 provincial synagogue.
Historic interest:

* in reflecting the popularity of Bournemouth as a Jewish holiday destination;
* in reflecting the diversity of community in Bournemouth.

External Links

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