London's East End Synagogues, cemeteries and more......

My personal journey through the Jewish East End of London begins here...

please e.mail thoughts & memories to: Phil Twitter: @Philslondon

Phil!One of my walkling groups in a forgotten rural corner of Mile EndJewish walking tours with Phil.....are you a visitor to London, or maybe a family/individual/club/organisation wishing to discover the Jewish East End of London or Jewish Soho in London's West End? If so, I would love the opportunity to take you round.  My fee is modest and my enthusiasm is boundless. I lead tours around Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Stepney Green, Jewish Soho and more.  If you have a particular interest you wish to explore please let me know.  On the right is a photo of a recent walking tour visiting a forgotten rural corner of Mile End. Do you recognise it? For more information and photos please click tours. You can also read about a recent walk for Sutton and District synagogue here. To enquire about a group or individual tour please e.mail Phil 

All my walking tourers are entitled to a 10% discount off a meal at London's premier Kosher restaurant: Restaurant 1701 located in the secluded courtyard of historic Bevis Marks Synagogue, Bevis Marks, London EC3A 7LH.  Ask me for your discount card.

Regrettably I cannot undertake any walks in August

Follow me on Facebook

If you love Klezmer, you'll love this: Klezmer Klub concert

I'm adding new pages all the time, so keep checking back - have fun!

Fieldgate Street synagogue is open once a month for Shabbat morning services. Their next is on Saturday 16th June starting around 9.30am.  I'll be there.  If you want further details send me an email. Meanwhile, view historic scenes from their March 2006 Purim service here: Purim, part 1 & Purim, part 2 .  
View scenes from nearby Nelson Street Synagogue, filmed on Jewish heritage day 2007 when author Bernard Kops read samples of his work: Nelson Street and 'Deaf as a bug!'

(Double click all photos to enlarge)



Plaque on entrance to Jewish Care's premises in Beaumont Grove, Stepney states: The Stepney Jewish (B'Nai Brith) Club & Settlement. This building was opened by H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on 28th June 1956" Plaque on entrance to the Brady Centre in Hanbury St, off Brick Lane, states that these premises were once the site of the Brady Boys & Girls Clubs High Definition Map of Whitechapel/Spitalfields/Stepney dated 1922. How many synagogues (syn) can you spot?

Interior of Fieldgate Street Synagogue March 2006The word 'shul' is Yiddish (a Jewish dialect spoken by Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants which is a mixture of German, Hebrew and other influences) and means 'school' and is another word for 'synagogue' - which is itself a Greek word meaning 'meeting place'.  As the names indicate, these immigrant founded East End synagogues were more than just places of worship.  They were social centres, study centres (shuls), places where people who had emigrated from the same towns in Russia (landsman) could find reassurance together, and so on. On the left is a recent photo of the interior of Fieldgate Street Synagogue. 

Commemorative service at Bevis Marks 23 July 2006 with 6 past presidents of the Board of Deputies sitting on the Bimah at a question and answer session to celebrate  the 350th Anniversary of the readmission of Jews to England.Bevis Marks Sephardi Synagogue 23rd July 2006, built 1701, oldest synagogue in the UKBevis Marks (on the Eastern fringe of the City of London) is a Sephardi (Spanish/Portuguese) synagogue,  while the others described are Ashkenazi (East European).  Bevis Marks is believed to be the UK's oldest synagogue and it opened in 1701.  Sephardi refers to Jews of Spanish/Portuguese origin.  Ashkenazi refers to Jews of East European origin.  The earliest Jewish settlers in the UK were Sephardi.  They arrived here in the C17th at the time of Cromwell and were refugees from the inquisition of The Roman Catholic Church.  The photos to the left and right were taken at an event at Bevis Marks on 23rd July 2006 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the readmission of Jews to England.  Six past presidents of the Board of Deputies sat on the Bimah (the raised platform at the rear of the left hand photo) for a lively question and answer session of interaction with the audience - great fun!

Although small numbers of Ashkenazi Jews were already present in London (See the history of The Great Synagogue, Dukes Place - established at the end of the C17th) the huge influx of East European Ashkenazi immigrants arrived much later in the Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company comemoration arch dated 1886, Wentworth StreetC19th and early C20th.   The Ashkenazi immigrants were often illiterate, poor and regarded as an embarrassment by co-religionists already settled here.  These Ashkenazi Jews had fled to the West as refugees from Russian persecution.  Between 1881 - 1914 approximately 3,000,000 Jews left Russia. Most went to the United States, but some 100,000 came to the UK.  They usually settled in the immediate vicinity of where their ships had landed.  Hence Jewish settlement was concentrated in the dockland areas of major port cities, and if you look at a map of London it is easy to work out why Jewish settlement was concentrated in London's East End.  Living conditions were often cramped and unsanitary.  For more on this take a look at Lloyd P Gartner's book 'The Jewish Immigrant in England 1870 to 1914'.  On page's 156 and 157 of my copy he tells the story of early slum clearance and a company called The Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company Ltd that set about trying to improve living conditions.  See the photo on the left of an arch in Wentworth Street dating from 1886 that commemorates the work of this company, and read a little more detail about them here: The Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company Ltd

The Book of Exodus from Fieldgate St Synagogue, printed Berlin 1832 with Cyrillic writing on it. Brought to England by Immigrants from Eastern EuropeOn the left is a photo of a Chumash containing the book of Exodus spotted recently in Fieldgate Street Synagogue.  It was printed in Berlin in 1832, has Cyrillic (Russian) writing stamped in it and would have been brought to this country by immigrants from Eastern Europe....if this book could talk what stories it could tell!

Victoria Boys Club Fordham Street off New Road, London E1At the beginning of the C20th over 100,000 Jews were crowded into the area around Whitechapel, Mile End and Aldgate. A feature of Jewish East End life was the growth of clubs for young people - the idea being to keep them off the streets, encourage them to become good British citizens, to be proud Jews and to give them a break from the poverty in which so many lived.  Clubs like Brady, HaBonim, Victoria Boys, Oxford and St Georges proliferated.   Jews Free School in Bell Lane - in its time the largest secondary school in the World - also played a major part in this Anglicising process. Meanwhile, my friend Simon Benedictus has written elsewhere on the site about Oxford and St Georges. I was recently talking to my friend Ruth London (her maiden name) who lived in Jubilee St.  She was a member of Oxford and St Georges club, and her father - Jack London (a stalwart of the Garment Workers Union) - was a manager at Victoria Boys Club (see photo on right) on Fordham Street off New Road.  She told me about her father taking her to Broxbourne in Hertfordshire for the Victoria Club's weekend camps and the camp songs they would sing.  These songs were written by an 18 year old club member named Lionel Begleiter.  Lionel Begleiter lived in Brick Lane.  He changed his name to Lionel Bart and went on to write musical hits like 'Oliver'.  So now you know! 

With increasing prosperity many Jews moved out to the leafier suburbs, and today only some 3000  - mostly elderly - Jews remain in the East End.  For their sake it is important the remaining synagogues (shuls) survive.  If you are Jewish please make up a minyan/attend a service when you can.

New Road Synagogue, 115 New Road, Whitechapel (now a clothing factory)

New Rd Synagogue Singer's prayerbook (siddur) in use at Fieldgate Street SynagogueI made a very exciting find recently following a stroll to Nelson Street synagogue, Whitechapel in search of a tenth man to make up the minyan at Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue on the second day of Simchat Torah, 15th October 2006.  Propped up against the wall in the small drive leading up to Nelson Street's main entrance was the 1892 consecration plaque from nearby New Road Federation Synagogue.  New Road was located at 115 New Road and closed in 1974.  It amalgamated with Nelson Street.  New Rd's former building is now a garment factory.  The inscription on the plaque vividly recalls the hopes and dreams of the first generation of Jewish immigrants to the East End and gives more than a hint of the wretched conditions in Eastern Europe from which our grandparents fled.  The story of the Jewish East End of London could be written around the words on this plaque.  Update - this plaque is now permanently on display in the entrance of Nelson Street synagogue.  See also: extract from 1892 consecration service, National Anthem in Hebrew

Take a look at the photo of the marble plaque below, double click it to enlarge, then read its poignant inscription.  Note the faded outline of the Royal Crest on the top of the plaque. "V - R" on either side of the crest refers (of course!) to Victoria Regina (Queen Victoria).

The plaque's inscription is:

New Rd Synagogue consecration plaque - 24th May 1892"On the occasion of the consecration of the above synagogue (New Road) on May 24th 1892, Her Majesty's birthday; a letter was addressed to the Queen on behalf of the members, expressing their respectful felicitations and acknowledging their loyalty to Her Majesty under whose benign sovereignty they enjoyed the priceless blessings of civil and religious liberties. The letter was accompanied by the "order of service" containing a special prayer in honour of Her Majesty's birthday. The following reply was received from the Rt Hon Sir Henry F Ponsonby C.C.B.  Buckingham Palace, May 26th 1892.  I am commanded by the Queen to thank the members of the New Road Synagogue for the copy of the "order of service," arranged by the Chief Rabbi, which they have forwarded to Her Majesty.  I have the honour to be your obedient servant, Henry F Ponsonby.  This tablet was unveiled on 13th Sivan 5653 - May 28th 1893, by the President J Singer esq"

Sept 2nd 2007, Henry Grunwald QC, President of the Board of Deputies, unveils New Rd's consecration plaque in it's new home at Nelson Street synagogueNew Rd plaque update: September 2nd 2007, New Road's 1892 consecration plaque was officially unveiled at its new home in Nelson St Synagogue by Henry Grunwald QC - President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (see photo left)


Meanwhile, my friend Cyril in Israel has sent the following anecdote about New Rd Synagogue:

"My Dad, alav hashalom was a member of the New Road shul, that is to say when he wasn't broigess with Rectory Square, which was not that infrequent. How well do I remember the shool? The (Belgian) Chazan who was almost fired for singing Adon Olam to the tune of the Volga boatmen!!  My Dad was Chatan Torah there in 1938. He was sick at the time with the 'flu and a delegation of worthies came to present him with his certificate which I remember well, pillars and lions and much gold writing. I also remember some discussion on shul matters which took place around my father's sick-bed, which culminated in one of the men saying--and I remember this well--- "Mr Shpigel, I don't vant to call you a liar, but I must say, you tell lies".  Oh, the old East End, and it's characters........"

The changing face of London-Fieldgate St, the only shul in the World with its own minaret!Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue, Fieldgate Street, London E1Fieldgate St interior- panelling by ladies gallery covered with memorial plaques detailing names and money donated to the synagogueFieldgate Street Great Synagogue, Fieldgate Street, London E1 is located next door to the East London Mosque.  This makes for an interesting visual contrast between earlier and later waves of East End immigrants!  Fieldgate Street was founded in 1899 (see the Foundation plaque below).  Their first President was Sir Samuel Montagu MP - who was the prime mover in founding the Federation of Fieldgate Street synagogue looking towards  the Ark from the bimah (reading desk)Synagogues.  His daughter - Lily Montagu - was one of the founders of the Liberal Jewish Movement.  Fieldgate Street was badly damaged during the War and was rebuilt in 1950.  It remains affiliated to the Federation of Synagogues and incorporates the former Vine Court, Alie Street, Ezras Chaim & Stepney Orthodox synagogues. The inscriptions on the wooden panelling fronting Plaque commemoprating the 1965 amalgamation of Vine Court with Fieldgate St SynagogueFieldgate Street's Ladies  gallery (see photo above) detail monies given as donations for the synagogue's maintenance. The sums described are small by today's standards but must have been enormous at the time of their giving, and are a measure of the dedication and sacrifice of those who founded synagogues such as these. A memento of Vine Court synagogue still exists on a plaque on the interior panelling showing money donated by their Ladies Guild.  .  A plaque commemorating Vine Court's 1965 amalgamation with Fieldgate Street is also on display in the synagogue's entrance hall - see photo right.

Festival Prayer (Machzor) printed in Warsaw 1888 & belonged to H Kushin of Victoria Park, HackneyThe Cyrillic inscription on page 3 of the Machzor tanslates from Russian as follows: "Licenced by Government services in Warsaw 25th January 1888.  Printed by Tursh Franciskayi 22, Machzor Part 2." The festival prayer book( machzor) (inside cover shown left) spotted in Fieldgate Street synagogue, tells its own story. It was printed in Warsaw in 1888 & belonged to H Kushin of Victoria Park, Hackney.  The Cyrillic inscription on the right is inscribed on page 3 of the festival prayer book.  Translated from Russian it says: "Licenced by Government services in Warsaw 25th January 1888.  Printed by Tursh Franciskayi 22, Machzor Part 2."

Reverend David Silverstein says goodbye to Fieldgate Street, Shabbat 15th September 2007The scroll is read for maybe the last time on a Shabbat at Fieldgate Street, 15th September 2007Fieldgate Street closed its doors briefly on Yom Kippur 23 October 2007.  On the left Reverend David Silverstein says goodbye to Fieldgate Street, and on the right the scroll is read for what was thought to be the last time on a Shabbat, 15th September 2007.  Fieldgate Street closed for good in April 2012.  View historic scenes from their March 2006 Purim service on Purim, part 1 & Purim, part 2

Below are some past and present Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue views.

Dunkirk veteran Jack & myself outside Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue, June 2004 - Be sure to visit Fieldgate Street Shul next time you're in London!

Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue-parading the Torah Scrolls early 1950's

Plaque next to Fieldgate Street Synagogue commemorating the 1888-1988 centenary of Grodzinski's bakery that adjoined Fieldgate St Synagogue

Grodzinskis Bakery that adjoined Fieldgate St Synagogue. Chaim Grodzinski - a founder of Grodzinskis - was Vice President of Redmans Rd Talmud Torah

Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue 1899 Foundation Stone. The inscription reads:

This Memorial Stone was laid by The Hon Chas N Rothschild, Monday July 17th 1899 - Ab 10th 5659. Hon President Sir Samuel Montagu Bart M.P; Acting President: S Michaels; Vice President J Cohen; Treasurer: J Payne; Wardens: H Crown & A Gluckstein; Hon Sec: Joseph E Blank; Sec: Frank W Woolf

Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue 1999 Centenary Comemorative Plaque in entrance to Synagogue. The inscription reads:

Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue - To commemorate the centenary of our community 1899 - 5659 to 1999 - 5759. President: J Gayer; Vice President: N Roos; Treasurer: R Wynn; Wardens: M Burns; C Davidson; G Barnett

The Hon Lily Montagu - a Fieldgate Street connection with the Liberal Jewish Movement:  Many people have heard of Sir Samuel Montagu, banker, philanthropist, bastion of Jewish Orthodoxy, founder of the Federation of Synagogues, Liberal MP for Whitechapel and much more.  Sir Samuel Montagu's name is inscribed on the Foundation stone of Fieldgate Street (see photo above).  He had a famous daughter: Lily Montagu.  Miss Lily (as she was known) went on to be a prime mover in the 1902 founding of the Liberal Jewish movement.  She became the president of my own synagogue: South London Liberal Synagogue, and remained so until her death in 1963.  A great lady.  Read more about Lily Montagu here:  Miss Lily  Meanwhile, hidden deep 'The Foundation Stone of the West Central Liberal Synagogue was laid by the Hon Lily Montagu OBE, JP on the 20th day of May 1951'within the basement of the headquarters of the Liberal Jewish movement at The Montagu Centre, 21 Maple Street  London W1T 4BE is the foundation stone of their former headquarters in nearby Whitfield St.  Miss Lily's name is inscribed on this plaque (photo left - click to enlarge)....I wonder what her father would have made of it all?

Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue, Purim March 2006

Fieldgate Street wedding 2003

Fieldgate Street wedding 2003 - the chatan (bridegroom) in the tallit looks strangely cheerful!!

Fieldgate Street wedding 1950's when Louis Blumenthal was the cantor

Fieldgate Street ark open for Purim

A Fieldgate Street wedding in 2003

Same wedding 2003 - the Bridegroom is wearing a tallit

Fieldgate Street wedding from the 1950s

Nelson Street - looking towards the arkEast London Central Synagogue (Nelson Street)Nelson Street Sphardish Synagogue (The East London Central Synagogue), 40 Nelson Street, London E1 2DE was founded in 1923 - see photo on left. The  following synagogues amalgamated with Nelson Street: Belz, Berditchover, Buross St, Cannon St. Rd, Chevra Sass, Commercial Rd Great, Grove St., Jubilee St, Mile End, New Rd, Philpot St. Great, Philpot St. Sphardish, Rumanian Sidney St., Sons of Britchan.  An unassuming red brick exterior (right)gives no clue to the wonders within - It's interior is elegant and beautiful - see photo left.

Below are two interesting plaques visible inside the entrance to Nelson Street synagogue:

!952 Nelson Street Amalgamation plaque

1923 Nelson Street foundation plaque that reveals the community was founded by immigrants from Berditchover

Scenes from historic Nelson Street Synagogue, Jewish heritage day 2007 when author Bernard Kops read samples of his work, can be viewed here: Nelson Street

Street Entrance to Bevis Marks SynagogueBevis Marks Main entrance inside their courtyardinterior view of Bevis Marks synagogueFront entrance to Bevis Marks Bevis Marks Sephardi Synagogue, Bevis Marks, London EC3.  Though not strictly in the East End Bevis Marks is less than half a mile away in the city of London.   Sephardi Jews - with permission from Oliver Cromwell - started their official return to England in the mid C17th.  The first Sephardi Synagogue was built in Creechurch Lane in 1657. When Creechurch Lane proved too small Bevis Marks Synagogue was built in 1701.  In contrast, the oldest surviving Ashkenazi synagogue in London (Sandy's Row) was founded in 1854. Bevis Marks is a premier London landmark.  For more views of Bevis Marks click the link at the top of this paragraph. 

Memorila plaque to Barnett Abrahams.  The first line is: 'This tablet is erected by the working classes of the Jewish faith to honor (note the USA spelling!) the memory of the Reverend Barnett Abrahams, founder of the Association for the diffusion of Jewish Knowledge'During a recent visit to Bevis Marks I spotted a chipped memorial plaque to the Reverend Barnett Abrahams (photo left) tucked away in a dusty corner.  The first sentence of the plaque intrigued me.  It read: 'This tablet is erected by the working classes of the Jewish faith to honor (note the USA spelling!) the memory of the Reverend Barnett Abrahams, founder of the Association for the diffusion of Jewish Knowledge'.  I needed to know more, and this is what the Jewish Chronicle of 20th November 1863 had to say.  They announced his death thus: "Alas, alas we should have to announce such evil tidings!  Alas that we should have to record a loss sustained by the community, which we unhesitatingly designate as calamitous, and which, in some respects, is irreparable!  The Reverend Barnett Abrahams BA., Dayan of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation, and Principal of the Jews' College, expired on Sunday morning last, before he had completed the thirty second year of his life!" 

The Reverend Barnett Abrahams must have been quite a man - but no doubt a forgotten dusty corner awaits us all!

Plaque on North side of entrance to Bernhard Baron House reads:To the glory of God and in proud memory of the members of the club & of the West London & Liberal Jewish Synagogues who laid their lives for their King & their Country in The Great WarBernhard Baron Settlement Synagogue, Berner Street (now Henriques Street)South West Essex Reform Synagogue's Beaumont Grove Branch evolved from the Oxford and St George's SettlementThey are now located in premises formerly housing the Stepney Jewish Girls' Club.  Their remarkable story is often overlooked.  Click on the link above to find out more - including some personal reminiscences of Basil & Rose Henriques (founders of The Settlement) by former Settlement Chairman: Simon Benedictus.  Bernhard Baron House, Henriques StreetTo the left is a War memorial plaque on the entrance to the former Settlement in Henriques Street remembering members of the West London and Liberal Jewish Synagogues who were killed in the first World War.  To the right is a not very good photo of the Settlement's synagogue, and to the lower right is a photo of the recently renovated entrance to the former Settlement (Bernhard Baron House).  Click: Basil Henriques to read a short biography of his amazing life.

 Congregation of Jacob synagogue undergoing renovation March 2003Congregation of Jacob Synagogue (Kehillas Ya'akov), Commercial Rd. London E1 2PS was founded in 1903. The shul is also known as Kehillas Yakov-which means 'Community of Jacob'.  It incorporates the following synagogues: Chevra Yisroel, Bicur Cholim, Stetziver. Recent renovation has restored the synagogue to excellent condition - as you can see from the above photographs. It is the last Folk Art synagogue in England.   David Russell of Kehillas Ya'acov (Congregation of Jacob) tells you more of the fascinating story of his congregation here: more

Congregation of Jacob ark with folk art painting just about visible above the ark through a sheet of polythene!Dr Harold Fenton - an ‘old boy’ of the Congregation of Jacob - has written to me and relates the following about the ‘folk art’ painting above the Congregation of Jacob's Ark (see photo right - unfortunately the top of the painting is masked slightly by protective polythene sheeting).  "In 1950 The president of the Congregation of Jacob was Dr M Godfrey.  His brother in law was Dr Steinberg who was a physician living opposite the shul.  Dr Steinberg was also an artist and in 1950 he painted and donated the motifs and framed artwork above the Ark.  The chazzan at the time was a Rev Moshe Zlotsky and the chief stewards (machers-gabaim) were the Lixenberg brothers.  Rev Moshe Zlotsky was chazzan from about 1946 to 1970."  On the right is a photo of the Ark in the Congregation of Jacob.

The Congregation of Jacob synagogue, Commericial Rd, London E1Dr Fenton was Bar-Mitzvah at the Congregation of Jacob (photo left) and was called up their prior to his wedding.   Dr Fenton attended Dempsey Street, Senrab Street and Raines foundation Schools. His Jewish education began in Redmans Road Talmud Torah, where the head was Rev J K Goldbloom.  He learnt his first Hebrew letters from Miss Weinberg. He continued his Jewish Education at the Eitz Chayim Yeshiva in Thrawl Street.  To the left is a photo of Raines Road School in Cannon Street Road.  Below are more photos of The Congregation of Jacob in Commercial Road.

Interior of Congregation of Jacob, March 2003 after refurbishment

Interior of Congregation of Jacob, March 2003 after refurbishment

Memorial 'scroll' - Congregation of Jacob

Congrgegation of Jacob's glass roof.  Filedgate Street & Princelet Street have similar roofs.

Interior of Congregation of Jacob looking towards the entrance.  Note the raised Bimah (reading desk) in the centre

Congregation of Jacob interior - looking towards the Ark

Memorial in the shape of a Torah scroll

Congregation of Jacob's glass roof allows natural light to enter the building

Commercial Road Great Synagogue

Choir in action at Commercial Road Great Synagogue early 1950sRabbi Shlomo Halstuck speaks at Commercial Road Great Synagogue early 1950sClose by to The Congregation of Jacob in Commercial Road was the Commercial Road Great Synagogue at 262 Commercial Rd.  It closed in the late 1960s to merge with the East London Central Synagogue in Nelson Street.  The photo on the left was taken in the early 1950's and shows their celebrated Rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Halstuck (bearded at the table) listening to the shul choir, while the photo on the right shows Rabbi Halstuck speaking at a shul meeting.  On his extreme right sits Sid Borstein who financed the East End Scholarship centre Talmud Torah in Philpot Street that closed in 1980

Through the front door and into Princelet St SynagoguePrincelet Street Synagogue (interior views left & right) was formerly a FederationThe remains of the ark - where the Torah scrolls were kept synagogue - and is now a museum  of immigration.  It is located at 19 Princelet Street, off Brick Lane, London E1.  The building is a former Huguenot house built in 1722.  A Synagogue was built over the rear garden in 1862. Note the stained glass roof.  Fieldgate Street and Congregation of Jacob also have glass roofs.  The recluse David Rodinsky lived in a room above Princelet Street synagogue for many years.  He died in The Grove hospital in Epsom, Surrey.  Princelet Street was abandoned in the 1960's.  I am told that when it was re-entered years later prayer books and other items were found undisturbed on tables and pews as if the congregation had only left for a few moments and were intending to return.  The black and white photo below was taken in October 1983 or January 1984 and is a view of Rodinsky's room just days after it had been opened for the first time in nearly 20 years.  This historic building is now in urgent need of restoration.  Photos of the exterior and interior of Princelet Street are to the left, right & below. Until recently the front of 19 Princelet Street was a shoe repair shop belonging to a Mr Lipman.  Read more here: Lipman's shoe shop

Rodinsky's room at the top of 19 Princelet Street just days after it had been opened for the first time in nearly 20 years

above; Rodisnky's room, 19 Princelet Street, photographed a few days after it had been opened for the first time in nearly 20 years

Looking to the ark of Princelet Street shul from the ladies gallery - it was very dark at the time!

Princelet Street's glas roof gave the interior natural light - except on the day I took these photos!

Princelet Street Synagogue, 19 Princelet Street at 31st August 2006

Interior of Princelet Street-view from the upstairs ladies gallery - it was very dark the day I took these photos

Princelet Street's glass roof enabled natural light to come in - which made reading a whole lot easier for Shabbat

Princelet Street Synagogue, 19 Princelet Street - August 2006

Depressingly youthfull me standing outside Sandys Row in 1993Interior view of Sandys Row with the late Jimmy Wilder showing a group of visitors his lovely synagogueRev David Newman of Sandys Row SynagogueSandy's Row Synagogue. Sandy's Row, off Artillery Lane.  London E1 was founded in 1854 by Dutch immigrants working mainly in the tobacco industry.  It is the oldest surviving Ashkenazi synagogue in London.  The building was originally built as a Chapel in 1766. The Dutch were economic migrants to this country who settled in this country some years before their Russian co-religionists began arriving in the 1880's.  Many members of Sandy's Row are descended from these early Dutch immigrants and Orange - the Dutch national colour - is a notable feature of this synagogue's lovely interior .  Photos of the exterior & interior of Sandy's Row are to the left and right Photos of the exterior & interior of Sandy's Row are to the left and right, together with a photo of Reverend David Newman (most probably pictured here at Stepney Jewish School), minister of Sandy's Row for nearly 45 years and who died aged 83 in 1989

Sandys Row's website is here

The stained glass windows ofthe  former Federation affiliated Bethnal Green Great Synagogue - now removed...why??Former Federation Bethnal Green Great Synagogue, off Club Row, Bethnal Green Rd - now hideously converted into an artists studioBethnal Green Great Synagogue, 11 to 15 Bethnal Green rd (formerly a member of the Federation of Synagogues) is near Club Row at the North end of Brick Lane.  The synagogue opened in 1924, was bombed during the war and rebuilt in 1956.  Declining attendance at services and the cost of maintaining the building forced its closure in 1984.  At the time I took these photos (2002) it was being used as a clothing factory and much evidence of its former use was still visible. The building has now changed hands and its elegant look wrecked.  The stained glass windows (visible in my 2002 photos above) have been removed and the roof has been squared off as if a giant static caravan has been perched on top of it. Only the Star of David on the front of the building remains to give a hint of its glory days. Why did the local council allow this vandalism to happen?

'Bethnal Green Great Synagogue, presented by Mr Samuel Landes in memory of his wife Sarah who died 26th January 1970, 19th Shevat 5730'On the left is a bookplate from a Bethnal Green Great Synagogue siddur.  The inscription reads: 'Bethnal Green Great Synagogue, presented by Mr Samuel Landes in memory of his wife Sarah who died 26th January 1970, 19th Shevat 5730'.  This particular siddur is now in use in Nelson Street synagogue (East London Central Synagogue, London E1).


Brady Street Cemetery viewThe Brady Street Ashkenazi Cemetery, Whitechapel, London E1 - closed since 1858 - is a rural haven and contains some notable occupants - particularly Nathan Mayer Rothschild (founder of the British branch of the banking dynasty) who died in 1836.


Also, click Alderney Road Cemetery to see photos from this other historic cemetery just down the road from Brady Street in Mile End.

Tubby Isaacs jellied eel stal, Middlesex St (petticoat Lane) Not Kosher!Below are some of the Jewish sites to be seen in and around Petticoat Lane/Wentworth St, Aldgate, Whitechapel and Mile End in London's East End.  They include Goides bakers shop; the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor in Brune Street (before and after gentrification), the soup kitchen opened in 1902 and closed as recently as 1992; Tubby Isaacs famous Jellied eels stall in Petticoat Lane (extremely non kosher!!); Plaque marking the former offices of the Jewish Board of Guardians at 125-129 Middlesex Street (Astral House);  Wall plaque opposite the Brune Street Soup Kitchen commemorating those whose lives have passed through the East End; The former premises of the Machzike Hadass synagogue in Brick Lane (now a mosque); Drinking fountain outside St Botolph's church Aldgate dedicated to David Frederic Mocatta (1828-1905) - Bullion broker and philanthropist; Maiden Lane synagogue's abandoned cemetery in Bancroft Rd, Mile EndThe King Edward 7th memorial opposite the London Hospital in Whitechapel; Magen David (Star of David) above 'Albert's' in Whitechapel marking the site of a long closed Yiddish Newspaper; A street scene in the East End's famous Petticoat Lane open air market; World War 2 bomb damaged Bancroft Road cemetery (photo right) in Mile End - containing burials from Maiden Lane synagogue.  Maiden Lane synagogue amalgamated with the Western Synagogue in 1907.  The Western Synagogue (in St Alban's Place, The Strand) was demolished in 1914. 

Goides a famous former East End bakers/caterer, Wentworth Street Soup Kitchen for the Relief of the Jewish Poor, Brune Street in 1993 Before and After - Gentrification comes to the Brune Street Soup Kitchen Wall plaque opposite the Soup Kitchen in Brune Street commemorating those who have passed through the East End Plaque marking the site of the Jewish Board of Guardians, 125-129 Middlesex Street

Goides a famous East End bakers/caterer, former premises in Wentworth Street

Soup Kitchen for the Relief of the Jewish Poor, Brune Street in 1993.  It closed in 1992 having served the East End for 90 years

 Brune Street Soup Kitchen- a recent photo now converted to very expensive flats

Wall plaque opposite the Soup Kitchen in Brune Street commemorating those who have passed through the East End

Plaque marking the site of the Jewish Board of Guardians, 125-129 Middlesex Street

Originally a Hugenot Chapel,the former Spitalfields Great Synagogue (MACHZIKE HADASS), Brick Lane - now a mosque

Drinking fountain outside St Botolph's church, Aldgate dedicated to Frederic David Mocatta (1828-1905) - Bullion broker and philanthropist

The sign above Albert's, Aldgate marking the former offices of a Yiddish newspaper

Edward 7th Jewish memorial, Whitechapel

Inscription on Edward 7th memorial opposite the London Hospital Whitechapel says: Erected from subscriptions raised by Jewish inhabitants of East London 1910

Petticoat Lane market - until recently nearly every stall holder was Jewish

Originally a Hugenot Chapel,the former Spitalfields Great Synagogue (MACHZIKE HADASS), Brick Lane - now a mosque

Drinking fountain outside St Botolph's church, Aldgate dedicated to Frederic David Mocatta (1828-1905) - Bullion broker and philanthropist & member of Sephardi banking dyn

The sign above Albert's, Aldgate marking the former offices of a Yiddish newspaper

Edward 7th Jewish memorial, Whitechapel opposite the London hospital, Whitechapel

Inscription on Edward 7th memorial opposite the London Hospital Whitechapel says: Erected from subscriptions raised by Jewish inhabitants of East London 1910

Petticoat Lane market - until recently nearly every stall holder was Jewish

Tubby Isaacs famous jellied eel stall on the corner of Goulston St - Mein host is pointing to where 'Tubbs' is hiding round the back!Heneage Street SynagogueTo the left is Tubby Isaacs'  famous jellied eel stall on the corner of Goulston St - supplier of slippery jellied eels to the masses since 1919. The gentleman in the photo is telling me that our 'Tubbs' is hiding behind the stall!  The stall was started by 'Tubby' Isaac Brenner who emigrated to the USA in 1938.  It was taken over by his assistant Solomon Gritzman who started working on the stall at the age of 11 and who died at the age of 73 in 1982.  To the right is the former Heneage Street Synagogue that closed in 1972.  When it closed some of their members transferred to Fieldgate Street Synagogue.  It is still a remarkable looking  building and retains the look of having once been something rather special.  It has been converted into flats and is located opposite the Pride of Spitalfields pub.  If you Mezuzah on top right hand doorpost of 38a Brick Lane on the corner of Fashion Streetlook closely enough at the buildings in and around the Brick Lane area you may spot the occasional mezuzah still in situ on the top right hand door post of someone's front door.  For example, as on the doorpost of number 38A Brick Lane on the corner of Fashion Street - see photo on the left.  This establishment is now the side entrance to an Asian business, but the spirits of its former inhabitants have left their mark - long may it and they remain....

Phil at a cousin's barmitzvah....Phil - on location!Who am I?  My parents were both born in and near the East End - my mother in Mile End New Town and my father in Bermondsey.  A 1917 photo of my mother, aunt, uncle, grandmother and a 'Mother Levy' nurse is below.  My mother is the little girl with the largest ribbon in her hair.   In 1918 at the age of 28 my grandmother (who came to the UK from Russia when a child) died in the Spanish flu epidemic.  Following this tragedy, my mother, her brother, her sister and their father went to live with their aunt and 8 cousins in a two bedroomed rented house in Skidmore Street, Mile End. To help make ends meet they had assistance from the Jewish Board of Guardians (which evolved into Jewish Care).


left to right-my grandmother, aunt, nursemaid, uncle and mother in 1917If you would like to read the transcript of a talk my mother gave to a group of Jewish children in 1985 about her early life growing up in Mile End in the East End of London click on East End Jewish talk

 (Double click to enlarge)

This site is dedicated to the memory to my mother Leah - who is the little girl on the right in the photo wearing a very large bow  - photographed in 1917.  She is standing next to a nurse holding her baby brother.  Her sister is on the other side standing next to her mother (my grandmother).  This elegant lady died at the age of 28 in the flu epidemic of 1918.

back to top of page

(Double click all photos to enlarge)

The main synagogues mentioned above are located at the following addresses:

Congregation of Jacob Synagogue
351-353 Commercial Rd, London E1 2PS.

Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue
41 Fieldgate Street,
London E1.

Bevis Marks Synagogue:
Bevis Marks,

Nelson Street Synagogue:
(East London Central Synagogue)
30-40 Nelson Street,
London E1 2DE.

Sandys Row Synagogue
4a Sandys Row
London E1.

Princelet St Synagogue (now a museum): 19 Princelet Street,
London E1

Settlement Synagogue (SW Essex Reform), 2-8 Beaumont Grove, London E1 4N2

"You've heard of Christian Dior, well I'm the Yiddisher Dior" Jackie Brafman

"You've heard of Christian Dior, well I'm the Yiddisher Dior", Jackie Brafman, Wentworth Street trader

post script:  and...., If you have ever wondered what a Torah scroll looks like when unrolled, it looks like this:

unrolling the scroll

unrolling some more...

unrolling down the other side of the sanctuary

nearly a complete circuit...

rolling the scroll back!

so now you know!

Twitter: @Philslondon

website copyright of Philip Walker


eXTReMe Tracker