London – The East End & Primrose Hill

A tour of the East End led by Robin Michaelson

With Saul Issroff and Cliff Marks (Seattle)

The tube from Northwick Park, Harrow where I am staying with Geraldine & Ronnie Auerbach to Baker Street where I meet the other three.

Our arranged meeting place is a wooden bench on Platform 3 on Baker Street Station.


East End of London

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The East End of London, also known simply as the East End, is the area of LondonEngland, east of the Roman and medieval walled City of London and north of the River Thames. Although not defined by universally accepted formal boundaries, the River Lea can be considered another boundary.[1] For the purposes of his book, East End Past, Richard Tames regards the area ascoterminous with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets: however, he acknowledges that this narrow definition excludes parts of southern Hackney, such as Shoreditch and Hoxton, which many would regard as belonging to the East End.[2] Others again, such as Alan Palmer, would extend the area across the Lea to include parts of the London Borough of Newham;[3] while parts of theLondon Borough of Waltham Forest are also sometimes included. It is universally agreed, however, that the East End is to be distinguished from East London, which covers a much wider area.

Use of the term East End in a pejorative sense began in the late 19th century,[4] as the expansion of the population of London led to extreme overcrowding throughout the area and a concentration of poor people and immigrants.[5] The problems were exacerbated with the construction of St Katharine Docks (1827)[6] and the central London railway termini (1840–1875) that caused the clearance of former slums and rookeries, with many of the displaced people moving into the East End. Over the course of a century, the East End became synonymous with poverty, overcrowding, disease and criminality.[3]

The East End developed rapidly during the 19th century. Originally it was an area characterised by villages clustered around the City walls or along the main roads, surrounded by farmland, with marshes and small communities by the River, serving the needs of shipping and the Royal Navy. Until the arrival of formal docks, shipping was required to land its goods in the Pool of London, but industries related to construction, repair, and victualling of ships flourished in the area from Tudor times. The area attracted large numbers of rural people looking for employment. Successive waves of foreign immigration began with Huguenot refugees creating a new extramural suburb in Spitalfieldsin the 17th century.[7] They were followed by Irish weavers,[8] Ashkenazi Jews[9] and, in the 20th century, Bangladeshis.[10] Many of these immigrants worked in the clothing industry. The abundance of semi- and unskilled labour led to low wages and poor conditions throughout the East End. This brought the attentions of social reformers during the mid-18th century and led to the formation of unions and workers associations at the end of the century. The radicalism of the East End contributed to the formation of the Labour Party, and Sylvia Pankhurst based campaigns for women’s votes in the area and organised the first Communist Party in England here.

Official attempts to address the overcrowded housing began at the beginning of the 20th century under the London County CouncilThe Second World War devastated much of the East End, with its docks, railways and industry forming a continual target for bombing, especially during the Blitz, leading to dispersal of the population to new suburbs and new housing being built in the 1950s.[3] The closure of the last of the East End docks in the Port of London in 1980 created further challenges and led to attempts at regeneration and the formation of the London Docklands Development Corporation. The Canary Wharf development, improved infrastructure, and the Olympic Park[11] mean that the East End is undergoing further change, but some parts continue to contain some of the worst poverty in Britain.[12]


The Walk to the Bevis Marks Synagogue


Bevis Marks Synagogue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bevis Marks Synagogue
Bevis Marks Synagogue P6110044.JPG
Basic information
Location Bevis Marks, London, United Kingdom
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
Rite Sephardic
Status Active
Heritage designation Grade I listed building
Architectural description
Completed 1701

Bevis Marks Synagogue (Hebrewבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת בוויס-מַרקס, AKA Kahal Sahar Asamaim or Sha’ar ha-Shamayim) is theoldest synagogue in the United Kingdom. It is located off Bevis Marks, in the City of London.

The synagogue was built in 1701 and is affiliated to London’s historic Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community.[1] It is a Grade I listed building. It is the only synagogue in Europe which has held regular services continuously for over 300 years.



Services at a small synagogue in Creechurch Lane date to at least October 1663, when it was visited on the festival ofSimchat Torah, by the diarist Samuel Pepys, who recorded his impressions of the service. In 1698 Rabbi David Nieto took spiritual charge of the congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews (also called Sephardim)[2]

A considerable influx of Jews made it necessary to obtain more commodious quarters. Accordingly a committee was appointed, consisting of António Gomes Serra, Menasseh Mendes, Alfonso Rodrigues, Manuel Nunez Miranda, Andrea Lopez, and Pontaleão Rodriguez. It investigated matters for nearly a year, and on 12 February 1699, signed a contract with Joseph Avis, a Quaker, for the construction of a building to cost £2,650. According to legend, Avis declined to collect his full fee, on the ground that it was wrong to profit from building a house of God. Also unsubstantiated is the story that a timber was donated by the then Princess Anne for the roof of the synagogue.[3] On 24 June 1699, the committee leased from Sir Thomas and Lady Pointz (also known as Littleton) a tract of land at Plough Yard, in Bevis Marks, for 61 years, with the option of renewal for a further 38 years, at £120 a year.

The structure was completed and dedicated in September 1701.[4] The interior decor and furnishing and layout of the synagogue reflect the influence of the greatAmsterdam Synagogue of 1677. The roof was destroyed by fire in 1738 and repaired in 1749. During the London Blitz the synagogue’s silver, records and fittings were removed to a place of safety; the synagogue suffered only minor damage. The synagogue suffered some collateral damage from the IRA in 1992 and the 1993 Bishopsgate bombing, but this was restored.[5] The essential original structure of the building thus remains today.

In 1747 Benjamin Mendes da Costa bought the lease of the ground on which the building stood, and presented it to the congregation, vesting the deeds in the names of a committee consisting of Gabriel Lopez de Britto, David Aboab Ozorio, Moses Gomes Serra, David Franco, Joseph Jessurun Rodriguez, and Moses Mendes da Costa.


For Sephardic Jews, the Bevis Marks Synagogue was a religious center of the Anglo-Jewish world for more than a century, and served as a clearing-house for congregational and individual Jewish problems all over the world. These included the appeal of Jews in Jamaica for a reduction in taxation (1736), the internecine quarrel among Jews in Barbados (1753), and the aiding of seven-year-old Moses de Paz, who escaped from Gibraltar in 1777 to avoid a forced conversion to Christianity. Through the actions of the leading synagogue member Moses Montefiore the synagogue was also involved in the 19th century in the Damascus Affair and the Mortara Affair. two events provoking much international discussion of Jewish rights and reputation.[6]

Amongst the Chief Rabbis of the Anglo-Sephardic Community (Hahams) who have served at Bevis Marks have been Daniel Nieto (1654–1728) and Moses Gaster (1856–1939).[7] Amongst other notable members of the synagogue’s congregation have been the boxer Daniel Mendoza, and Isaac D’Israeli (father of Benjamin Disraeli), who resigned from the congregation after an argument over synagogue fees.[8]

Expansion of the community

As the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community grew and moved out of the City and East End of London to the West End and the suburbs, members demanded a new synagogue to be built in the West End. When leadership refused this, some members formed a breakaway synagogue in Burton Street, which later became the West London Synagogue. In 1853 a branch synagogue was opened in Wigmore Street; in 1866 this moved to Bryanston Street, Bayswater. Attendance at Bevis Marks declined so much that in 1886 a move to sell the site was contemplated; a “Bevis Marks Anti-Demolition League” was founded, under the auspices of H. Guedalla and A. H. Newman, and the proposed move was abandoned.

In 1896 a new synagogue was built at Lauderdale Road, Maida Vale, as successor to the Bryanston Street synagogue.


the Ark

A prominent feature of the synagogue is the Renaissance-style ark (containing the Torah scrolls) located at the centre of the Eastern wall of the building. It resembles in design the reredos of the churches of the same period. Painted to look as though it is made of coloured Italian marble, it is in fact made entirely of oak.

Seven hanging brass candelabra symbolise the seven days of the week, the largest of which – hanging in the centre of the synagogue – represents the Sabbath. This central candelabrum was donated by the community of the Great Synagogue of Amsterdam. The candles are still lit today for weddings and the Jewish Festivals. The rest of the year the Synagogue is lit by the electric lights added in 1928. The ner tamid (sanctuary lamp) is of silver and dates from 1876.[9]

Twelve pillars, symbolising the twelve tribes of Israel, support the women’s gallery.

The synagogue contains benches running parallel to the side walls and facing inward, leaving two aisles for the procession with the Torah scrolls. In addition, backless benches at the rear of the synagogue, taken from the original synagogue at Creechurch Lane, date from 1657 and are still regularly used.[10]

A number of seats in the synagogue are roped off as they belong or have belonged to notable people within the community. Two seats were reserved for the most senior officials of the congregation’s publishing arm, Heshaim. A third seat, fitted with a footstool, (the seat nearest the Ark on the central row of the left half of the benches) is also withheld as it belonged to Moses Montefiore. It is now only ever occupied by very senior dignitaries as a particular honour. In 2001 Prince Charles used the seat during the synagogue’s tercentenary service. Prime Minister Tony Blair used it for the service celebrating the 350th anniversary of the re-settlement of the Jews in Great Britain in 2006, when the Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue SirJonathan Sacks and the Lord Mayor of London were also present.[11]

The synagogue retains notable historical records, including community circumcision and marriage records dating back to 1679.[12]

The modern synagogue

Interior, 2011

On Friday 13 November 1998, Lord Levene of Portsoken became the eighth Jewish Lord Mayor of London. An Ashkenazi Jew by birth, Lord Levene’s first public act was to walk, with a retinue, from his official residence (Mansion House) to Bevis Marks Synagogue, for the Sabbath Eve service. This was repeated on Friday 12 November 2010 by the then Lord Mayor Michael Bear.

Today the Spanish and Portuguese descendant community in London operates three synagogues; Bevis Marks, Lauderdale Road, (which is the community’s administrative headquarters), and a smaller synagogue in Wembley. The community’s sheltered housing scheme “Harris Court” and old-age home “Edinburgh House” are also located in Wembley. A number of other Sephardic synagogues in Britain have associated status.Bevis Marks Synagogue remains the flagship synagogue of the British Sephardic Jewish community. Regular services are held and the synagogue is frequently a venue for weddings and other celebrations.


The Heron Building – great views of London and a trendy sushi bar on the top floor.


Liverpool Street station

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Liverpool Street
London Underground National Rail
London Liverpool Street
Liverpool Street station, London, England-26Feb2011.jpg

Main station concourse

Liverpool Street is located in Central London

Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street station, also known as London Liverpool Street,[4][5] is a central London railway terminus and connectedLondon Underground station in the north-eastern corner of the City of London. It is the terminus for the West Anglia Main Line to Cambridge; the busier Great Eastern Main Line to Norwich; many local commuter services to parts of east London,Essex, and Hertfordshire; and the Stansted Express, a fast link to London Stansted Airport.

It was opened in 1874 as a replacement for the Great Eastern Railway‘s main London terminus, Bishopsgate station, which was subsequently converted into a goods yard. Liverpool Street was built as a dual-level station with an underground station opened in 1875 for the Metropolitan Railway, named Bishopsgate until 1909 when it was renamed Liverpool Street. An additional station called Bishopsgate (Low Level) existed on the mainline just outside of Liverpool Street from 1872 until 1916.

During the First World War Liverpool Street was a target of one of the most deadly daylight air raids by fixed-wing aircraft – the attack killed 162 people. In the build-up to the Second World War the station served as the terminus for thousands of child refugees arriving in London as part of the Kindertransport rescue mission.

The station was modernised and rationalised between 1985 and 1992; at the same time the neighbouring Broad Street station was demolished and its lines redirected to Liverpool Street. As part of the project the Broadgate development was constructed on the Broad Street site. Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the modified station in December 1991.

The Underground station was damaged by the 1993 Bishopsgate bombing, and during the 7 July 2005 terrorist attacks seven passengers were killed when a bomb exploded aboard an Underground train after it had departed Liverpool Street.

With over 57 million passenger entries and exits in 2011-12, Liverpool Street is one of the busiest railway stations in the United Kingdom and is the third busiest in London after Waterloo and Victoria.[6] It is one of 19 stations managed by Network Rail[7]

It has three main exits: toLiverpool Street, after which the station is named; to Bishopsgate; and to the Broadgate development to the west of the station. The Underground station connects the CentralCircleHammersmith & City andMetropolitan lines, and is in fare zone 1.

The Kindertransport Memorials at Liverpool Street Station


Sandys Row Synagogue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sandy’s Row Synagogue
Sandys Row Synagogue 2008.jpg
Basic information
Location LondonEngland
Affiliation Orthodox Judaism
Rite Ashkenazi

Sandy’s Row Synagogue is a historic Grade II listed[1] synagogue in the East End of London.[2]



The building was constructed in 1766 by refugee French Huguenots as a community church, named L’Eglise de l’Artillerie (the Artillery Church), on a small street called Parliament Court, Artillery Street, in Bishopsgate.[3] The church took its name from the street, which in turn took its name from the fact that in the time of Henry VIII, the artillery practiced there.[4] With changing demographics, the church passed into the hands of the Universalist Baptists, the Unitarian Baptists, the Scottish Baptists, and the Salem Chapel. In the mid-19th century, it was purchased by a Jewish society, the Hevrat Menahem Avalim Hesed v’Emeth(Heb: The Comforters of Mourners Kindness and Truth Society).[5] The society had been founded by immigrants in 1853 as a mutual aid and burial insurance society, but evolved into a synagogue.[5] The members were workingmen of Dutch Ashkenazibackground, employed as cigar makers, diamond cutters and fruit traders.[5] They acquired the building in 1867.[5]

The building renovation was opposed by London’s established synagogues, whose officials believed that new immigrants ought to join one of the established congregations. The poor, immigrant Jews of London’s East End, however, felt so strongly about having a synagogue of their own that, rather than sitting in the free or cheap seats reserved for the poor in the established synagogues, they raised money to purchase and renovate the building at the rate of a penny per family per week. The Chief Rabbi of London, Nathan Marcus Adler, refused to preside over the dedication ceremonies. The total cost of the renovation came to £1,000. The building contractor held a mortgage for most of the cost, which the congregation paid off at the rate of £70 per year.[6][7]

By 1881 Sandys Row was among the largest congregations in the East End, with a membership of 460 families and adult men.[8]

In May 2009 English Heritage awarded a grant of £250,000 for the restoration of the synagogues Huguenot roof.[1][9] In November 2010, building work began and the new roof is now in place.

Today (2012) The synagogue is the last remaining Jewish place of worship in Spitafields. It is in use for weekday afternoon prayers, for Sabbath services every other week, for Jewish Festivals, and for tours of the historic building.[1] A plan for using the historic synagogue to house a museum or heritage centre celebrating the Jews of London’s East End is under consideration.[10]

After the Great Synagogue of London, the city’s first Ashkenazi congregation, was destroyed by the Nazis in the London Blitz on May 10, 1941, Sandys Row became theoldest surviving Ashkenazi synagogue in London.[10]


The congregation hired architect Nathan S. Joseph to remodel the former church. The building is rectangular and measures 48′ by 36′. A women’s gallery runs along the north, west, and south walls.[8] The difficulty was that the entrance was on the south east corner of the building. Jews traditionally pray in the direction of Jerusalem, which, in London, in towards the southeast. Joseph’s solution was to brick up the former entrance, place the Torah Ark on the southeast wall, and open a new door on the northwest wall, opening onto Sandys Row.[5]

Solomon modeled the handsome Georgian interior after the style of the Great Synagogue of London in Duke’s Place. Like the Great Synagogue, Sandys Row has a coved ceiling, cornice, clerestory windows and a Neo-classical Torah Ark set into an apse.[5] The pews are of pine and the Torah Ark of mahogany. The interior is almost unaltered since its construction in the nineteenth century.[9]



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ch ch spitalfields.400px.jpg
Christ Church, Spitalfields

Spitalfields /ˈspɪtəlˈfldz/ is a former parish in the borough of Tower Hamlets, partly in Central London and partly in theEast End of London, near to Liverpool Street station and Brick Lane. The Liberty of Norton Folgate and the neighbouringLiberty of the Old Artillery Ground were merged into Spitalfields in 1921.

The area straddles Commercial Street and is home to several markets, including the historic Old Spitalfields MarketBrick Lane Market and Cheshire StreetPetticoat Lane Market lies on the area’s south-western boundaries.


Brick Lane

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brick Lane street sign in English and Bengali.

Brick Lane (Bengali: ব্রিক লেন) is a street in East LondonEngland, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It runs from Swanfield Street in the northern part of Bethnal Green, crosses Bethnal Green Road, passes through Spitalfields and is linked toWhitechapel High Street to the south by the short stretch of Osborn Street. Today, it is the heart of the city’s Bangladeshi-Sylheti community and is known to some as Banglatown.[1] It is famous for its many curry houses.


Baker Street Station


Primrose Hill

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates51.5396°N 0.1608°W

Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill Panorama, London - April 2011.jpg
View of central London from Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill is located in Greater London

Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill
 Primrose Hill shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ282838
London borough Camden
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district NW1, NW3, NW8
Dialling code 020
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Holborn and St. Pancras
London Assembly Barnet and Camden
List of places



Primrose Hill is a hill of 256 feet (78 m)[1] located on the northern side of Regent’s Park in London, and also the name given to the surrounding district. The hill has a clear view of central London to the south-east, as well as Belsize Park andHampstead to the north. It is one of the most exclusive and expensive residential areas in London and is home to many prominent residents.[2]


Panoramic view of London from Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill at night

Like Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill was once part of a great chase appropriated byHenry VIII. Later, in 1841, it became Crown property and in 1842 an Act of Parliament secured the land as public open space. The built up part of Primrose Hill consists mainly of Victorian terraces. It has always been one of the more fashionable districts in the urban belt that lies between the core of London and the outer suburbs, and remains expensive and prosperous. Primrose Hill is an archetypal example of a successful London urban village, due to the location and the quality of its socio-historical development.[3] In October 1678 Primrose Hill was the scene of the mysterious murder of Edmund Berry Godfrey, and in 1792 the radical Unitarian poet and antiquarian Iolo Morganwg (Edward Williams).

Notable residents past and present

One Reply to “London – The East End & Primrose Hill”

  1. Pleased to see that you’ve got time for non-roots stuff as well.

    We’re having an amazing time, heavy-duty socialising and all! We’ve now returned to Jerusalem, and I was able to enjoy the Great Synagogue all over again: this time it was the IDF chief cantor who was the guest chazzan and the full choral treatment from the start of shacharit onwards had me floating! Spoke to Ofir Sobol who conducted us with his father at the Helfgott concert….says he’d like to return to Perth. He brought his own little choir just to accompany the prayer for the IDF, standing on the bimah. Had Friday night dinner at the Dan with old friends from Birmingham, and Shabbat lunch with friends from Sydney….all lovely and lively reunions.

    I remember the name Geraldine Auerbach well…I think that she was involved with Jewish music initiatives through SOAS at University of London, but I’ve not actually met her.

    Enjoy your travels and look forward to catching up down the track.


    Sent from my iPad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: