Singers Hill Synagogue

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Birmingham, Singers Hill Synagogue

SINGERS HILL SYNAGOGUE, Ellis Street/Blucher Street.
Open: Sun 12th 1000-1300. Pre-booking required before Fri 10th on 0121 6430 884

1855-6 by Yeoville Thomason. The earliest surviving large scale so-called 'cathedral synagogue' in Britain. ItalianateGlossary Term, in red brick with dark stone dressingsGlossary Term; paired roundGlossary Term headed windows and big bracketGlossary Term corniceGlossary Term. Entrance front with a triple arcadeGlossary Term and a rose windowGlossary Term in the gableGlossary Term, delightfully recessed behind flanking wings. The blunt parapetGlossary Term of the arcadeGlossary Term probably of 1937, when the whole gableGlossary Term wall was rebuilt one bayGlossary Term W by Harry W. Weedon & Partners, to increase the seating capacity. Oscar Deutsch, for whom Weedon designed Odeons, was President of the Synagogue. In the wings, roundGlossary Term headed doorways with leaded hoods of 1957-9 by Cotton, Ballard & Blow, part of alterations for a Children's Synagogue, N, and washing areas, S. Thomason's side elevations have two tiers of windows in shallow roundGlossary Term headed blank arches. On the S, beyond the synagogue, the former JEWISH SCHOOL, also by Thomason. The W part of 1862, originally of two storeys. In 1884 the top storey was added, a first floor Council Room formed, marked by roundGlossary Term headed windows, and the two storey E block built.

Sumptuous interior. Six bayGlossary Term arcades with CorinthianGlossary Term columns above the galleries, and square piers, with very ByzantineGlossary Term leaf capitals, below. The treatment owes as much to Wren, e.g. St Andrew Holborn, as to Italy. Barrel vaultGlossary Term with Thomason's interlaced heart ornament on the ribs. Apsed E end beyond a grand archGlossary Term with paired attached piers supporting free standing columns; modern ArkGlossary Term. The rich mid C19 impression owes much to the two tiers of original gilded metal CHANDELIERS. Galleries reconstructed and ground floor re-seated by Weedon in 1937, retaining ornate C19 supporting trusses. His W extension is treated as a extra full height bayGlossary Term, containing a deep galleryGlossary Term. - BIMAH of 1988 using C19 pieces. - STAINED GLASS. An unusual complete series of Hardman windows, mostly of the late 1940s to 1962, but some later windows upstairs (dates commemorated 1975-6). They are figurative and mildly Expressionist, but all faces are concealed, e.g. the dramatic Moses with the Tablets (upper level, S). A series of Jewish festivals (lower level, N). Fascinating social documentation, e.g. the Exiles ReturnGlossary Term to Israel (lower level, S). To the E, Thomason's school hall of 1862 with blank arcading, reconstructed as a social centre in 1934 by John Goodman, who also re-fitted the Council Room in a solid, mildly streamlined way.



Series of arches supported by piers or columns (compare colonnade). Blind arcade or arcading: the same applied to the wall surface. Wall arcade: in medieval churches, a blind arcade forming a dado below windows. Also a covered shopping street.


Types include: Basket arch or Anse de Panier (French, lit. basket handle): three-centred and depressed, or with a flat centre. Chancel: dividing chancel from nave or crossing in a church. Crossing: spanning piers at a crossing in a church. Depressed or three-centred: with a rounded top, but curving inward more at the sides. Four-centred: with four arcs, the lower two curving inward more than the upper, with a blunt central point; typical of late medieval English architecture. Jack arch: shallow segmental vault springing from beams, used for fireproof floors, bridge decks, etc. Ogee (adjective ogival): a pointed arch with a double reverse curve, especially popular in the 14th century; a nodding ogee curves forward from the wall face at the top. Parabolic: shaped like a chain suspended from two level points, but inverted. Relieving or discharging: incorporated in a wall to relieve superimposed weight. Shouldered: with arcs in each corner and a flat centre or lintel. Skew: spanning responds not diametrically opposed. Stilted: with a vertical section above the impost i.e. the horizontal moulding at the springing. Strainer: inserted in an opening to resist inward pressure. Three-centred: see Depressed, above. Transverse: spanning a main axis (e.g. of a vaulted space). Triumphal arch: influential type of Imperial Roman monument, free-standing, with a square attic or top section and broad sections to either side of the main opening, often with lesser openings or columns. Tudor: with arcs in each corner joining straight lines to the central point. Two-centred: the simplest kind of pointed arch.


Chest or cupboard housing the tables of Jewish law in a synagogue.

Barrel vault

The simplest kind of vault, in the form of a continuous semicircular or pointed arch; also called a tunnel vault.


Division of an elevation or interior space as defined by regular vertical features such as arches, columns, windows etc.


Small supporting piece of stone, etc., to carry a projecting horizontal member; hence also bracket-cornice.


A style which originated at Byzantium (Constantinople), the Eastern capital of the Roman Empire, in the 5th century, spreading around the Mediterranean and, with Eastern (Orthodox) Christianity, from Sicily to Russia in later centuries. It developed the round arches, vaults and domes of Roman architecture but eschewed formalized classical detail in favour of lavish decoration and ornament of emblematic and symbolic significance. Introduced to late 19th- and early 20th-century Britain as an alternative to Gothic, usually for church architecture; often called Neo-Byzantine.


The most slender and ornate of the three main classical orders. It has a basket-shaped capital ornamented with acanthus foliage.


Flat-topped ledge with moulded underside, projecting along the top of a building or feature, especially as the highest member of the classical entablature. Also the decorative moulding in the angle between wall and ceiling. An eaves cornice overhangs the edge of a roof.


The stone or brickwork worked to a finished face about an angle, opening, or other feature.


Peaked external wall at the end of a double-pitch roof. Types include: Dutch gable, with curved sides crowned by a pediment (also called a Flemish gable); kneelered gable, with sides rising from projecting stones (kneelers); pedimental gable, with classical mouldings along the top; shaped gable, with curved sides; tumbled gable, with courses or brick or stonework laid at right-angles to the slope. Also (Scots) a whole end wall, of whatever shape.


A long room or passage; an upper storey above the aisles of a church, looking through arches to the nave; a balcony or mezzanine overlooking the main interior space of a building; or an external walkway.


A style of classical secular architecture at its peak in the early to mid-19th century, derived from the palaces of Renaissance Italy, but often varied by asymmetrical elements.


Wall for protection at any sudden drop, e.g. on a bridge, or at the wall-head of a castle where it protects the parapet walk or wall-walk. Also used to conceal a roof.


Part of a wall or moulding that continues at a different angle, usually a right-angle.

Rose window

Circular window with tracery radiating from the centre.


(Scots): A rounded bartizan or turret, usually roofless. An angle round is set at a corner.