Spanish & Portugese Synagogue

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Manchester, Synagogue, Cheetham Hill Road

SPANISH AND PORTUGUESE SYNAGOGUE (former) Cheetham Hill Road, Cheetham.

By Edward Salamons, 1874-5, for the Sephardic Jews in what Salomons described as 'Saracenic' and 'Moresque' style, appropriately recalling the ancient architecture of Moorish Spain, and avoiding either GothicGlossary Term or classicalGlossary Term with their respective Christian and pagan associations. The use of the style for the exterior as well as the interior is quite unusual, though T.H. & F. Healey did something similar in the Bowland Street synagogue in Bradford in 1880-1.

Rescued after closure, the building is now used as the Manchester Jewish Museum, opened in 1984. It is not large, and set back from the line of the street, in warm red brick with stone dressingsGlossary Term. In the projecting entrance bayGlossary Term a central door framed by a Moorish archGlossary Term, below an arcadeGlossary Term of five horseshoe-headed windows. On each side are two-storey bays, windows with ogeeGlossary Term heads below and horseshoe heads above.

The interior has been kept much as it was when closed in 1981 apart from the removal of seats in the ladies' galleryGlossary Term upstairs, where there are exhibitions. The pink and green colour scheme, with gilding, is a reconstruction of what was found beneath 20th century overpainting. First a foyer with the museum reception to the left and galleryGlossary Term staircase to the right and doors ahead leading to the main space. The open timber roof has ventilators with foliated mouldingGlossary Term. Galleries on three sides, with an intricate ironwork parapetGlossary Term and cast-iron columns with fancy capitals. At the E end is a recess framed by a Moorish archGlossary Term springing from paired columns, with a classicalGlossary Term ARKGlossary Term, where the Torah scrolls are kept, with paired columns and a segmental archGlossary Term. The columns have gilded capitals and pink marble shafts. BIMAH, from which the Torah is read, at the W end with openwork sides in Moorish designs. The bench seating with armrests is original. At the rear there is a converted SUCCAH, used during the festival of tabernacles, which had originally a removeable roof.

Stained Glass: all early 20th century. Big circular East window with a Menorah, 1913. The rest downstairs show biblical landscapes and scenes, all seemingly by the same hand. Upstairs, East end: on one side the pillarGlossary Term of fire, on the other the pillarGlossary Term of cloud. Other windows have geometrical designs.



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.


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


A term used for the architecture of Ancient Greece and Rome, revived at the Renaissance and subsequently imitated around the Western world. It uses a range of conventional forms, the roots of which are the orders, or types of column each with its fixed proportions and ornaments (especially Doric, Ionic and Corinthian). Classical buildings tend also to be symmetrical, both externally and on plan. Classical architecture in England began c. 1530 with applied ornamental motifs, followed within a few decades by fully-fledged new buildings.


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


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.


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.


Shaped ornamental strip of continuous section, e.g. the classical cavetto, cyma or ovolo.


A double curve, bending first one way and then the other. An ogee or ogival arch, especially popular in the 14th century, is pointed at the top. A nodding ogee curves forward from the wall face at the top.


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.


Free-standing upright member of any section, not conforming to one of the classical orders.