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.


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