Princes Road Synagogue

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Princes Road Synagogue, Princes Road
Open: Sun 1015-1630 Tours 1030 & 1230 & 1500. Pre-book: 0151 709 3431 (from 30th Aug.

The most memorable work of the firm of W. & G. Audsley surviving in Liverpool, and one of the finest examples of Orientalism in British synagogue architecture. It replaced one of 1807 in Seel Street, by John Harrison. The Audsleys won the competition in 1871, and the building opened in 1874. Common brick, with red brick, red sandstone and polished red granite, combining GothicGlossary Term and Moorish elements. Façade with high, gabled centre and lower wings, reflecting the division into naveGlossary Term and aisles. Centre framed by octagonal turrets. These, and the outer square turrets, had arcaded and domed finials like minarets (removed in 1961, a sad loss). The W door and rose windowGlossary Term above are GothicGlossary Term, but incorporate Moorish lobed arches. Interior dazzlingly rich with polychrome stencilled decoration, restored, but said to follow the original. Pointed horseshoe arcades spring from tapering octagonal columns of cast ironGlossary Term. Plaster tunnel vaultGlossary Term over the naveGlossary Term, with transverse vaults. Seats in the aisles and galleries face inwards. The E end is divided off by a giant lobed horseshoe archGlossary Term, framing the E rose windowGlossary Term. Below this is the gleaming focus, the ArkGlossary Term, of multi-coloured marbles with five richly painted domes, like something out of the Arabian Nights. Carved by Alfred Norbury. In front, the equally rich pulpitGlossary Term and, further W in the central space, the sumptuous Bimah, or reading platform (presented in 1875 by David Lewis, founder of Lewis's department store), both also carved by Norbury. Stained glass with abstract and floral patterns, by R.B. Edmundson & Son to the Audsleys' designs.



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.

Cast iron

Hard and brittle iron, cast in a mould to the required shape rather than forged. Compare wrought iron.


The style of the Middle Ages from the later 12th century to the Renaissance, with which it co-existed in certain forms into the 17th century. Characterized in its full development by the pointed arch, the rib-vault and an often skeletal masonry structure for churches, combined with large glazed windows. The term was originally associated with the concept of the barbarian Goths as assailants of classical civilization.


The body of a church west of the crossing or chancel, often flanked by aisles.


Raised and enclosed platform for the preaching of sermons. Three-decker: with reading desk below and clerk’s desk below that. Two-decker: as above, minus the clerks’ desk.

Rose window

Circular window with tracery radiating from the centre.

Tunnel vault

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