A little while back when I was writing about my wanderings through Middle Street in Brighton I posted this photograph of mine,
At the time I had no idea what this building was, although it certainly looked very impressive from outside. Over the weekend I was looking through websites of places to visit in Brighton and Hove, and found pictures of this wonderful old building.
It is the Middle Street Synagogue. The Sussex Jewish Representative Council states on its website that it is ‘one of Europe’s greatest Synagogues’. This Synagogue was opened in 1875 and is not in full-time use any more although special services and weddings are still held here. The building is open to the public at certain times and has been Grade II listed to reflect its architectural and historic importance. Middle Street Synagogue has the finest 19th century decorative interior of any building in Brighton with the sole exception of the Brighton Pavilion. http://www.sussexjewishrepresentativecouncil.org/middle-street/
On another website (http://www.bhhc-shul.org/middlestreet.html) the latest post is from September 2009, but is very interesting. It says ‘Heritage Open Day: “One of Europe’s Greatest Synagogues”. In 1874, a project for a new synagogue in Brighton was put out to tender. It was won by Thomas Lainson, a well-known local architect and the new synagogue opened in 1875. The exterior has been described as both Byzantine and Romanesque and looks slightly out-of-place in its side street home. The interior, described by Anthony Dale as amongst the most splendid synagogue interiors in Europe, it certainly is quite spectacular.’
It sounds amazing and I shall be on the lookout for when it might be open for tours.