< Back

Anglo-Jewish Architects and Architecture in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Edward Jamilly

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Anglo-Jewish Architects, and Architecture in the 18th and 19th Centuries1 By Edward Jamilly Introduction ENGLISH Architecture, like so many other facets of life and development in these Islands, is remarkable for the easy absorption of quite virile foreign elements. These alien influences have, in the course of time, become so assimilated into the native stream that their origin is forgotten and the results come to be accepted as peculiarly English. The successful export today of English tailoring products and quality textiles, the skills that are taught by the Royal School of Needlework and reach their highest expression in such works as Queen Mary's carpet may perhaps be traced to the weaving traditions brought by Huguenot refugees, like the Courtaulds, from France and the Low Countries. The national monuments of Westminster Abbey give us the names of those who revived the art of sculpture in 18th century England, men such as Rysbrack, Schee makers, Roubiliac, Delvaux, le Marchand, names from Flanders and France; in the applied arts numerous English country houses pay tribute to the skill of Italian and French craftsmen and decorators?Tijou's lovely ironwork at Chatsworth and Hampton Court, the plasterwork and paintings of Cipriani, Zucchi, Angelica Kauffman and others. So it was in architecture?the essence of English Romanesque came with William the Norman, and many a Gothic church speaks the lingua franca; East Anglia owed much of its regional character to building styles imported with a king from Holland and to the wool trade with Baltic and Hanseatic ports ; Renaissance in England was inspired by the earlier movement in Italy and later in its development took account of French models as well, whilst countless public buildings would lack their classical facades but for the rediscovery of Greek and Roman antiquities. It is against such a back cloth that the Jewish contribution may be sought. Little wonder perhaps that with so strong a power of assimilation in England the mark of a community numerically small and deprived for so many centuries of the opportunity to practise the plastic arts should be hard to find. Indeed, it would be miraculous if, dispersed among so many countries, the Jews had letained any particular influence for architecture, the most regional of arts and sciences, dependent for its forms as much upon the material and climate of a locality as the culture of the community from which it springs. Whilst in the field of universal learning there are notable physicians, sages, writers, astronomers, and the long practice of usury during the Middle Ages produced goldsmiths and bankers, agents and men of commerce, there is not a single architect of note up to the beginning of the 19th century. If it possessed no architects of its own the Jewish community had still need of buildings, both private and communal; whereas secular architecture could follow the normal practice of its place and time, for religious buildings this community was excep? tional in having to rely on men of other faiths to interpret its ancient ceremonies and provide them with fitting surroundings. Mediaeval Europe had many synagogues well-adapted internally and functionally planned to the form of service and customs of 1 Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England on 8th March, 1954. 127</page><page sequence="2">128 ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS, AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES the time; only too often the exteriors lacked proper dignity and full flowering of architec? tural treatment, due probably to the desire, in an age of massacre and pogrom, for concealment of their purpose and unobtrusive siting. Jewish life and buildings in England up to the time of the banishment of 1290 has been the subject of previous studies and I am concerned in this paper to deal with the period immediately following resettle? ment under the Commonwealth, when conditions were at last favourable to the develop? ment of fitting buildings for the community. 18th Century Let us first examine some of the initial difficulties which must affect a synagogue building project at the end of the 17th century. Restoration had followed Common? wealth, a Dutch king was now on the throne and the security of the Jewish settlers was unimpaired in spite of these constitutional changes. Indeed, William had brought in his train a fresh influx of settlers. It was to be another 150 years, however, before they were to be given entry to the higher posts in the country, and among their civil disabilities was that of land tenure. In old congregational records, the sites of synagogues are often found to be held by non-Jewish Trustees or leased on short terms; even as late as the Regency Jewish wills show a reluctance to disclose ownership of freeholds, which were often legally held through nominees. Under such conditions richer communities naturally proceeded with caution about the spending of any considerable sums of money on property. The funds at the disposal of poor groups of alien Jews were often so modest that they sufficed only to hire a room and later to use as a place of worship a converted building. Some congregations started as prayer-groups held in private houses; Nathan Henry's house in Southwark was used from 1799 by the founders of the Borough Synagogue, the Westminster (Western) congregation began in 1768 at "Wolf Liepmann's", whilst "Zender Falmouth's" minyan of pedlars was a characteristic provincial example of this practice in the 18th century. In more recent years there are several instances of the use of converted chapels, notably those freed by the preceding wave of immigrants, the Huguenots.1 Hence the scarcity of proper synagogues and the late date at which they were erected in relation to the number and sequence of communities established. Among other obstructions to free and full architectural expression was the sensitivity of the young Jewish community to the feelings and desires of its hosts ; the quarter in which the community settled and built its synagogue more often than not was dictated by a desire not to offend, or to appear obtrusive; Jewish cemeteries were sited where they were permitted to bury their dead; levies and concealed bribes were often considered prudent as the price of tolerance, and the power of the synagogue over the individual was extended even to his business transactions. Modest were the architectural exteriors formed out of this attitude of mind. An interesting comparison is provided by the rich interior of Spiller's Great Synagogue in the City of London and its plain, almost Puritan 1 In 1867 the Sandys Row, Spitalfields congregation, a friendly society of Dutch Ashkenazi working men founded in White's Row in 1853, leased the French Huguenot Chapel in Artillery Lane, Bishopsgate (built c. 1700), thoroughly repaired and converted it in 1870. The Spital? fields Great Synagogue (Machzike Hadath) today occupies yet another?a fine galleried building in Fournier St., Stepney, erected 1743, bought and converted in 1898?whilst the Western Synagogue, bombed out of its premises in Alfred Place, during World War II, found a temporary home in the former emigre Chapel Royal (St. Louis of France, built 1799) in Carton St., W.l, which has been intelligentiy restored,</page><page sequence="3">ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS, AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES 129 elevation. In some respects the cautious and subdued design of early synagogues find a parallel in the sober meeting-houses of the Protestant dissenters who, by the edict of a Catholic monarch in 1662 were driven into secrecy, and treated with intolerance for nearly a century. Both grew from modest beginnings and were built simply around a congregational worship. Unlike the hostile conforming churchman, neither Jew nor Dissenter could look to any but his own congregants to subscribe the cost of buildings. It was not until the middle of the 19th century, and the advent of full Jewish emancipation, that synagogue architecture tried to compete in external magnificence with churches. Lastly there remained the problem of achieving a Jewish expression in religious buildings designed and built through the agency of non-Jews. It was inevitable that many 18th century synagogues should follow stylistically the English Renaissance church and ecclesiastical architecture of the kind that has come to be called Georgian. Yet at the same time, their designers have achieved a difference of atmosphere, not altogether the result of ritual planning requirements, strangely evocative of age and permanence, a sonorous tradition of worship and of those "ancient Hebrew fathers", to borrow the words of Longfellow, who came from alien lands. These early synagogues are to my mind the best that have been built in England and their care and preservation should be the pride of the communities that own them; unhappily, their number is decreasing with the movement of congregations away from older residential areas and for other less creditable reasons. Some buildings that would be prized today have already disappeared and it should be the aim to record, if not arrest, the continual losses which are occurring. The Cathedral Synagogues The history and location of synagogues and communal buildings is the clearest record1 of the pattern of Jewish resettlement and community life in England during the 18th and 19th centuries, and falls naturally into three phases, the first of which is set in London. The initial settlement of Sephardim from Amsterdam, Rouen, Bordeaux, Bayonne and Hamburg, following Menassah-ben-Israel's petition to Cromwell led to the establishment of the first synagogue in a house in Creechurch Lane, City of London in 1656, later extended by leasing a second house and converting the two into one building; plans and a description were the subject of a previous paper before this Society2. With the further influx of Dutch Jews in the wake of William of Orange pressure on accommodation led both to the construction of a larger building nearby in Bevis Marks for the Sephardim (opened 1701) and to a separate synagogue in Duke's Place, Aldgate (1692) for the Ashkenazim, who had until that time worshipped in the Sephardi synagogue and were now increasing rapidly in number with the influx of Lithuanian and German Jewry. Thus were established the two principal congregations from which sprang all others in the Capital, and it is of their buildings that I would first like to speak, because they are to my mind the Cathedral Synagogues of England. Bevis Marks The Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Synagogue in Bevis Marks was modelled in some details after the Amsterdam Synagogue of 1675; it has the same basic plan, a similar 1 Street names having Jewish associations, of which there are many in London and provincial towns, provide further interesting permanent marks, which might profitably be the subject of comprehensive study. 2 Given by Mr. Wilfred S. Samuel, Trans. J.H.S.E., Vol. X, 1921.</page><page sequence="4">130 ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS, AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES design for the Ark and fenestration above, for the balcony fronts and the candelabra? which is not surprising since these were a gift from the Amsterdam community. Both buildings share an atmosphere of polished mellow woodwork. Yet the plain, square ceiled shell of the London synagogue lacks the scale and richness conveyed by the giant free-standing columns rising to support the barrelled ceiling of its Dutch counterpart. Mr. Hyamson, in his Sephardi History, has described fully all the circumstances of its erection i1 let it suffice to say that after the preparation by a joiner named Henry Ramsay of a study model in 1694, a contract was signed in 1699 with a carpenter and joiner named Joseph Avis, who had previously worked on several important London buildings including Merchant Taylor's Hall and St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street. The contract sum was ?2,650 payable in instalments and the building was completed within two years. Avis was a Quaker and it is notable that since the final cost was less than the original contract price he refused to accept the whole of the agreed sum, in order not to profit from a building devoted to God. Unlike the first plan of No. 5 Creechurch Lane, the new synagogue adopted a ground layout consisting of a rectangular central space with columns supporting the women's galleries at the rear and on either side; though the galleries may be derived from church plans their lattice-work fronts are a reminder of the ancient oriental and Central European synagogue plans where women were accommodated at the same level as men but behind a perforated screen. Bevis Marks is happily still with us and now classified as an Historic Monument; it has much of the style of a Wren City church, yet in its woodwork parti? cularly I detect the hand of its Quaker builder. One can imagine the builder receiving instruction in the approved layout and perhaps even visiting Amsterdam or inspecting prints ofthat synagogue. In much the same way Peter Harrison, architect ofthat early American Colonial gem, the Synagogue at Newport, Rhode Island, received instruction from the Rev. Isaac Touro of the Amsterdam Rabbinical Academy some sixty years later. The Great. The German synagogue in Duke's Place, Aldgate, or the Great Synagogue as it came to be known, has fortunately been very adequately chronicled by Mr. Roth.2 It is best known, not as the original structure of 1692, but as the fine Georgian building designed between 1788 and 1790 by James Spiller. The architect, known to be a clever man with a difficult temperament, was not unduly influenced either by Bevis Marks or Amsterdam, although in 1788 interest in synagogue design resulted in a drawing of the latter appearing in the Gentleman's Magazine. He followed the basilican plan almost universally adopted for synagogues since the destruction of the Temple, and his interior is clearly little away from the stream of Georgian church design?a very handsome interior nevertheless, with its Ionic columns carrying the galleries and running upwards to support the panelled ceiling. Spiller exhibited drawings of his synagogue at the Royal Academy, and followed it by designing St. John's Church, Hackney, and additions to Drury Lane Theatre. The Great Synagogue, which Mr. Summerson3 rates as "the only substantial contribution of the Jewish faith to the architecture of Georgian London", was unfortunately lost in the blitz of 1940-1. 1 Albert M. Hyamson, The Sephardim of England, (1951). 2 Cecil Roth, The Great Synagogue, London 1690-1940, (1950). 3 John Summer son, Georgian London, (1945).</page><page sequence="5">Plate 1 Great Synagogue, Duke's Place, from engraving by Pugin and Rowlandson. ? Wf Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, Bevis Marks New Synagogue, Great St. Helens, from engraving by Melville</page><page sequence="6">Plate 2 Pelham Crescent, South Kensington Geo. Basevi, Architect</page><page sequence="7">ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES 131 Other Synagogues in London. Before leaving London we should note several other early synagogues, offshoots of the Great Synagogue, generally classic in treatment and all now demolished. The Hambro in Church Row, Fenchurch Street was founded in 1726 and had a quiet elegance. The New, founded in Leadenhall Street in 1760, moved in 1838 into a magnificent building in Great St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, designed by John Davies, at that time one of the largest in London. This building has been ascribed to Mocatta, and stylistically could have been fathered by Basevi, but it belongs to neither; its interior was largely incorporated when the New Synagogue was rebuilt at Stamford Hill in 1914 and moved there stone by stone, column by column. The Westminster congregation (originally formed in 1774) met in Denmark Court, Strand from 1797 and founded the Western Synagogue on moving in 1826 to a building in St. Alban's Place, Haymarket designed by Robert Abraham, later architect to the Duke of Norfolk. Smaller congregations were formed in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden by dissenters from the Westminster congregation (about 1815) and in the East End, notably Rosemary Lane congregation (founded 1748, later transferred to Great Prescott Street) and Gun Yard congregation (founded 1792, later transferred to Mansell Street and then to Scar? borough Street) both in the Goodman's Fields area, and the "Polish" Synagogue of about 1790 in Cutler Street, Houndsditch. Two small synagogues were established also in Southwark (Market Street, from about 1799, and Prospect Place, 1823). Towards the middle of the 19th century seceders from the Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities formed the West London Synagogue of British Jews, and both in their temporary premises in Burton Street (1841) and later in Margaret Street, Cavendish Square (1850) employed a Jewish architect?David Mocatta?for the first time in London. Of these two buildings no pictures appear to survive, although Margaret Street synagogue seated 400 persons, cost over ?4,000 and from contemporary accounts was a substantial structure. Mention should also be made of two early Charities?the Sephardi Beth Holim and the original Jews' Hospital and orphan asylum of the Ashkenazi community; both buildings were situated in Mile End and appear to have been of some architectural merit. The former and older institution is known to us by T. H. Shepherd's watercolour of 1851. The latter, founded in 1806, was illustrated in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1819, and replaced in 1847 by John Davies, whose Jacobean design no doubt influenced the subsequent building in Norwood. Early Provincial Synagogues The second phase of resettlement is to be followed in the Provinces. As might be expected, immigrants from Holland, Germany, Lithuania and later Poland and Russia came by way of the seaports, and although few settled where they landed?London was always the first big attraction?nevertheless, pedlars found their way back and combined with bumboatmen trading with sailors to form some of the early seaport communities. Many provincial congregations must have been so modest initially that their services took place in a private house or room hired for the purpose, but as their numbers and prosperity increased they built unostentatious synagogues of Georgian design, modelled no doubt on those of the Metropolis, to which the provincial communities looked for leadership, and built simply and well by non-Jewish hands under guidance. From</page><page sequence="8">132 ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS, AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES Mr. Roth's study of Provincial Jewry1 can be traced the foundation of these coastal communities, starting in 1746 with Portsmouth, followed by King's Lynn (1747), Chatham and Liverpool (1750), Plymouth (1752), Bristol (1753), Exeter (1763), Falmouth (1766), Swansea (1768), Dover (1770), Sunderland (1781), Sheerness (1790), Ipswich (1792), Edinburgh (1795), Penzance (1807) and Hull (1810). Original synagogues that remain are few, the others having either been extended to take larger congregations, or, more commonly, shut down, sold or demolished with the move of congregations away to newer residential areas. As the importance of the town decreased during the Industrial Revolution, the Jewish communities in Falmouth, Sheerness and Penzance died out. Portsmouth, the oldest congregation outside London, sold its synagogue in Portsea and rebuilt in Southsea; only the original Ark (in Southsea) and Bema (in Bournemouth) survive from the old building. Exeter and Plymouth still fortunately exist. Apart from noting their robust character, their similarities of detail and the evident care and piety of their congregants, proper study of these provincial synagogue buildings must be left for further investigation. Although inland, certain early communities appear independently at Birmingham, Canterbury, Cambridge and Gloucester, the third phase in the resettlement was a logical "colonising" movement from existing centres. To take but one example, the building of synagogues at Brighton, Bath and Cheltenham at the time of the Regency followed from the popularity of these spas with Londoners and the seasonal movement with fashionable society of Jewish doctors, lawyers and tradesmen dependent upon it. Colonial Links It may be noted in passing that colonisation extended over-seas; by no means all of those who came to British seaports stayed in England. Many a poor immigrant in the days of Nelson found himself press-ganged into the Navy from an English port and finally left ship in Gibraltar or Bermuda or an island of the West Indies. Although the original settlement of Jews in the Caribbean followed the break-up of Spanish and Dutch possessions in South America, English connections can be traced to the communities of Jamaica, Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts, Curacao, the Guianas and St. Thomas. Trade links with the ports of south and west England can only have fostered the connec? tions and stimulated the growth of colonial Jewish communities. Had it not been for the attractions of North America later in the century, the Jewish (like the Irish) population of England might well have been much greater than it was. In these countries, as in other parts of the British Dominions, may be found ideas of synagogue design which bear the influence of earlier buildings erected in England. 19th Century : The Rise of the Jewish Architect In a paper so wide in scope, I have necessarily only touched the fringe of community building up to the end of the 18th century. If one can generalise, it consisted almost entirely of synagogues of Georgian design built by non-Jews, and outside London, with few exceptions2 their authors are unknown. The 19th century brought with it the first 1 Cecil Roth, The Rise of Provincial Jewry, (1950). 2 One of the exceptions is Seel Street synagogue, Liverpool (built 1807, demolished 1874) which was designed by Thomas Harrison, internationally famous architect of numerous public buildings and one-time favourite of Pope Clement XIV.</page><page sequence="9">ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS, AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19l'H CENTURIES 133 of a number of Jewish names. It may be asked why, when the profession of architecture in its modern form had been established since the time of the Italian Renaissance, and in England for nearly two centuries, the Jew was so tardy in his appearance. The answer is to be found in his lack of building opportunity, for of all the professions, architecture arises from static needs for which a nomad community is no training ground; it arises in a property-owning community, and the alien Jew, uncertain of the legality of holding property, abstained from property-dealing and had little interest in building. The lack of Jewish architects can be explained also by considering the spheres of life into which Jews had for centuries been forced to concentrate their energies. In England it took a generation or two for the immigrant family of traders and merchants to become sufficiently established and prosperous to afford the training and social opportunity necessary for entry to the profession. Geo. Basevi f.s.a., f.r.i.b.a. (1794-1845) The first, and perhaps the most eminent, architect of Jewish descent was Benjamin DTsraeli's first cousin, George (Elias) Basevi. Born in 1794, of a Sephardi family originating from Verona and related to Cervetto the cellist,1 and Rieti, the founder of Ranelagh Gardens. Young George Basevi was brought up to consider himself in every way an Englishman. Although his grandfather was warden of Bevis Marks synagogue and President of the Board of Deputies in 1801, his father2 resigned with Isaac DTsraeli from the congregation in 1817 and there is little doubt that formal conversion to Christian? ity subsequently took place. Basevi studied under Sir John Soane, architect of the Bank of England, and became his most brilliant pupil. As a draughtsman he was superb; his drawings, many of them preserved in the Soane Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum, are notable for crisp pencil detail. Following the Grand Tour abroad, he started in practice on his own. It is interesting to note among his early clients the names of David and Sampson Ricardo, for whom he did country house work, and he advised his cousin Dizzy in setting up offices for that ill-fated publication The Representative. Another early commission was that of adding 12 sets of rooms to Balliol College, Oxford; the Master, having previously refused to employ Pugin on the grounds that he was a Catholic, saw nothing wrong with a converted Jew ! Like a leader-writer in the London Evening Standard a year or two ago, many will ask "who has heard of George Basevi ?" Even among architects he is relatively unknown, yet in a generation graced by such names as Barry, Pugin, Smirke and Wyatt, he was an outstanding figure. His work includes Belgrave Square and many of South Kensington's Regency terraces, the old Middlesex Hospital and Medical School, numerous country houses, schools, almshouses, gaols. He built two fine classical churches, in which Mr. Goodhart-Rendel finds a synagogal touch, and five rather mediocre Gothic churches. His were the winning designs for the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and, in association with Sydney Smirke, for the Conservative and Carlton Clubs in St. James's. He had two pupils of some note : F. T. Dollman, who became a successful, but dull, church designer of the Gothic Revival, and J. W. Wild, an original architect with flashes of brilliance. Basevi died in 1845 from a fall in Ely Cathedral; carelessly, he kept his hands in 1 Manager of Drury Lane Theatre after Garrick (see D.N.B.). 2 Geo. Basevi Senr., was a Lloyds underwriter before 1800, and became Chairman of the Brighton bench in 1838 and a deputy-lieutenant for Sussex.</page><page sequence="10">134 ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS, AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES his pockets whilst walking over scaffolding in the tower?an architect should know better ! His son, a captain in the Royal Engineers, worked on the principal triangulation of the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India and died of exposure in Tibet whilst conducting scientific observations for the Royal Society. His great-grandson returned to architecture and designed film sets in Hollywood. David Mocatta f.s.a., f.r.i.b.a. (1806-1882) In 1821, almost exactly 10 years after Basevi, David Mocatta, son of Moses Mocatta, entered Sir John Soane's office. His articles contain a proviso that the agreed office hours should exclude Jewish festivals and Sabbaths. Unlike Basevi, he was not a brilliant pupil, and on completion of his studies, spent some years in Italy. He displayed work at the Royal Academy and many of his watercolours?some of them quite charming ?are preserved in the collection of the R.I.B. A., including an incomplete set of synagogue drawings (probably Margaret Street). On his return to England he was engaged on several important buildings and the design which he submitted in competition for the Royal Exchange ranked high. It is as the architect of Brighton station and the viaducts and stations of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway that he is best remembered. Mr. Barman1 places him among the most influential of railway architects, both for his charming Italian manner, which came to be the accepted railway tradition, and for his thoughtful experi? ments in standardized planning, which were followed in many other stations of repetitive unit design. At the time of Mocatta's railway work another Jew, Joseph Samuda,2 began to lay out that eccentric folly, the London-Croydon line of the Atmospheric Railway, after successful experiments at 30 m.p.h. on a J mile track ! Mocatta, unfortunately for his profession, retired early on succeeding to the family fortunes, but not before he had built for his first cousin, Sir Moses Montefiore, the Ramsgate3 synagogue (1833)?surely the first in England to be designed by a Jewish architect?and the Burton Street (1841) and Margaret Street (1851) premises of the West London Synagogue. He was one of the keenest promoters of the Architects Benevolent Society, and in later years became Senior Trustee of the Soane Museum. He was a founder member and, on the death of Sir Francis Goldsmid, Chairman of Council of the West London Synagogue, and during its rebuilding in Upper Berkeley Street he was consulted by the architects, Davis and Emanuel, throughout. There are three points at which the careers of Basevi and Mocatta meet; they were both pupils of Soane; they were early members of the R.I.B.A. Council and both were, at one time, elected Vice-Presidents; on Basevi's death the position which he held as Surveyor to the Guardian Assurance Co. was applied for by Mocatta (but not obtained). David Brandon f.s.a., f.r.i.b.a. (1813-1897) Another Vice-President of the R.I.B.A. and of Jewish parentage was David Brandon, who must have known Basevi and Mocatta quite well?there were only twenty years between the three men's ages. There is a similarity between Brandon's design for the 1 Christian Barman, Railway Architecture, (1950). 2 Engineer, naval architect and M.P. (see D.N.B.). 3 Mr. Owen Mocatta tells me that the original plan for this synagogue shews a gallery, but no stair leading to it. I am glad to trace to its source the fable of the architect who left the stair? case out !</page><page sequence="11">Plate 3 Junior Carlton Club, Pall Mall David Brandon, Architect</page><page sequence="12">Plate 4 City of London School Davis and Emanuel, Architects Reform Club, Manchester Edward Salomons, Architect</page><page sequence="13">ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS, AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES 135 original Junior Carlton Club1 and Basevi's Conservative Club, whose waiting list of members it was designed to reduce, and Brandon's career seems to have been modelled on Basevi's. He was articled to George Smith, the architect who, curiously enough, in later years built the London Bridge terminal to Mocatta's L.B. and S.C. Railway. Brandon showed early promise when, as a student R. A., he won a silver medal for the best drawings of the Bank of England, a building upon which Basevi and Mocatta had worked whilst in Soane's office. From 1838 to 1851 Brandon was in partnership with T. H. Wyatt, that prolific designer and restorer of churches; among their minor works wrere the C. of E. and Non-Conformist cemetery chapels of Stepney, a Borough that probably contains more synagogues than any other in England ! Although the partners kept their work separate and pooled profits, even a pupil of theirs found it difficult to dis? criminate accurately between them, and it is from 1851, when his independent career began, that Brandon's work can be distinguished. In that year he was awarded a bronze medal for services in connection with the Great Exhibition, and later received another for his work on the Sydney National Exhibition of 1879. He considered the Junior Carlton Club to be his best work, but his designs for the Alarlborough Club2 and Eagle Life Office, Pall Mall also bear inspection, and he built a long line of country houses for the nobility?no doubt from introductions obtained in the building of clubhouses. It has been said of him, that unfortunately he lived too long. He was born in 1813 and died in 1897, by which time he had long ceased building and the journalists had forgotten all about him. None of the papers carried an obituary notice except the Journal of the R.I.B.A., of which he was a benefactor, having defrayed the cost of the first Institute Library Catalogue in 1889. John Raphael Brandon f.r.i.b.a. (1817-1877) and Joshua Arthur Brandon (1822-1847) The brothers Joshua Arthur and John Raphael Brandon were contemporaries of David Brandon, but in no way related, for whilst Sir Thomas Colyer Fergusson's pedi? grees show David as the 3rd of 5 children of Joseph Israel Brandon and Rachael de Piza, the brothers Joshua and Raphael spring from the family of Rodrigues Brandon. These brothers, and partners until the death of Joshua at the early age of 25, are best known as the authors of numerous books and illustrations of Gothic architecture?the raw material of the Gothic Revival. They did not confine their Gothic essays to ecclesiastical work; they designed several stations and engine-houses on the London-Croydon Railway in the 1840's, with chimneys disguised as the bell-towers of early Gothic churches and the buildings carried out in a romantic mediaeval manor-house style?all in the cause of local amenities ! After the death of his younger brother, Raphael was responsible for the Catholic Apostolic Church, Gordon Square (1851-5), the actors' church,3 St. Peter's, Great Windmill Street (1860-1) and other churches which at the time were considered to be models of their kind. Raphael Brandon's wife and child died before him; thereafter he plunged into deep depression and in 1877 committed suicide by shooting himself in the temple with a pistol. 1 Added to and refaced by Macvicar Anderson in 1881. 2 Later known as the Marlborough-Wyndham Club and closed in 1954. The Eagle Life building is almost opposite. 3 This little church within a stone's throw of Piccadilly Circus was closed in April, 1954 and demolished.</page><page sequence="14">136 ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES The Second Half Century These first architects of whom I have spoken were all drawn from the Sephardi community and contributed much to Christian but, with the exception of Mocatta, little or nothing to Jewish ecclesiastical architecture, no doubt because of their religious defection. At mid-century a large building programme was put in hand for the growing needs of the community; the Jewish Directory for 1874 lists 34 new or enlarged synagogue projects completed in the previous 20 years, as well as a formidable roll of schools, ministers' houses, congregational offices and charitable institutions. Not all of these buildings were designed by Jewish architects, but they had the lion's share and they came from the Ashkenazi community. From the host of Victorian architects I would like to select half a dozen names that are worthy of note. Henry D. Davis f.r.i.b.a. (1838-1915) and Barrow Emanuel m.a., f.r.i.b.a. (1841-1904) The firm of Davis and Emanuel have already been mentioned in connection with the rebuilding of the West London Synagogue in its present form. This was the result of a limited competition after which H. H. Collins, another Jewish competitor, exchanged words in the Press with the successful entrants. Barrow Emanuel was a native of Ports? mouth, where his family name bore a long and honourable record.1 He designed the Grammar School and two Portsmouth Board Schools in the 1870's which still exist, but his firm's best-known work is probably the City of London School, Victoria Embank? ment, won in competition against 52 other architects in 1880. A comparison between this design and the Manchester Reform Club of 1870, to which I shall refer later, reveals many curious similarities despite the different styles adopted by their architects ; were Davis and Emanuel influenced by the work of their co-religionist Edward Salomons ? Emanuel took a warm interest in working-class housing and completed several blocks of dwellings in the East End during the 'eighties and 'nineties as well as middle class housing on the Kidderpore Estate, Hampstead. He was a J.P. for Middlesex, member of the Board of Guardians and of the Council of the Anglo-Jewish Association. With his senior partner Henry Davis, he designed the synagogues at Lauderdale Road and Stepney Green in addition to Upper Berkeley Street, convalescent homes at Broad stairs and Felixstowe, the Meistersinger club in St. James's and several City office buildings. The firm also carried out extensive alterations to East Cliff Lodge, Ramsgate for Sir Joseph Sebag-Montefiore, built a country mansion for G. C. Raphael and Jewish almshouses in Mile End. Hyman Henry Collins f.r.i.b.a., f.s.i. (1833-1905) The unsuccessful contestant for the West London Synagogue, Collins was, like Emanuel, concerned with extensive schemes of working-class housing, both in the East End and in Westminster, and he too undertook the design of numerous commercial premises in the City. He was District Surveyor for the City of London, Alderman and Chairman of the Public Health Committee of Paddington B.C. and member of the Council of the Architects Benevolent Society, thus combining three interests which have been present in so many Jewish professional men?the City, public service and charitable institutions. One may also note a characteristic of the architects of whom I have so far 1 An Emanuel was Lord Mayor of this City.</page><page sequence="15">ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS, AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES 137 spoken?eagerness to let public competition be the test of their qualities?a characteristic shared by Collins, who won first premiums for the rebuilding of the City of London Lying-in Hospital, City Road and Jewish model dwellings in Commercial Street. He was the father of eight children and the family had many theatrical connections.1 He will be remembered also as one of the most prolific architects who ever served the Jewish community, although I find his buildings among the ugliest, perhaps because he practised at a bad period. He repaired the Western Synagogue in 1857 and built the Westminster Jews Free School, Hanway Place (1883); among his synagogues are the North London, Barnsbury (1868), the Borough New, Walworth (1867), St. John's Wood, Abbey Road (1880), the former Sephardi branch synagogue in Upper Bryanston Street (1861), Southampton (1865), Bristol (1870) and the Chatham Memorial Synagogue of 1870. His design was awarded second premium in the Liverpool synagogue competition of 1872. Edward Salomons f.r.i.b.a. (1827-1906) From the building scientist to the Bohemian ! Collins' work never seemed to transcend mere structural stability2 and fire resistance, matters in which as District Surveyor, he was so expert; the same can hardly be said of Edward Salomons who, practising in London, Manchester and Liverpool, fell in and out of partnership with five different people, and designed as romantic a set of monuments as one could wish for. From a villa in Biarritz to Caen Wood Towers, Highgate, he built fanciful and highly individual houses with a marked French accent. He was the architect of the Prince of Wales Theatre, Liverpool. For Manchester he designed the Reform Club, Princes Theatre, Crematorium and the 1857 Exhibition building on Old Trafford cricket ground for the Art Treasures of the United Kingdom, whilst in Bond Street and Liverpool on a more modest scale he built Agnew's galleries ; he displayed some ability as a water-colour artist and published a number of studies of Brittany and Flanders. I can find only one synagogue, attributed jointly to him and N. S. Joseph, the Bayswater Synagogue erected in Chichester Place, Harrow Road in 1863, which is the blood brother of Old Melbourne synagogue and may have inspired others in the Colonies. He was also one of the four architects invited to submit designs in the Liverpool competition of 1872, which was won by Messrs. Audsley. Time permits only a brief reference to the architectural families of Joseph and Solomon; between them they were to give London landmarks such as Shell-Mex House, Strand, the Prudential in Holborn, and Maison Lyons in Oxford Street. The founders of the two firms, neither of them brilliant designers, merit inclusion here if only for the sheer quantity and bulk which characterised much of their work, varying from Guinness Trust dwellings to L.C.C. flats and from office blocks and shops to factories and ware? houses. 1 Among them were Lottie Collins,who popularised the song "Tarara Boomdeay", Jose Collins? the "Maid of the Mountains", Frank Collins, C. B. Cochran's Manager and A. P. Collins, managing director of Drury Lane. 2 Although I am informed that it is less than 30 years since St. John's Wood synagogue had its foundations underpinned at a cost of thousands.</page><page sequence="16">138 ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS, AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES N. S. Joseph f.r.i.b.a. (1832-1909) Nathan Solomon Joseph was uncle to another well-known architect of the same name.1 As consultant to the Guinness Trust and to Lord Rothschild's Four per cent Industrial Dwellings Company, working-class housing formed a large part of his practice, but he also designed the Jews Free School, Spitalfields (1883)?reputedly the largest in the world at that time?and considered its Hall to be his best work. He was joint architect of the Bays water Synagogue at Chichester Place, Harrow Road (1863) and of the New West End Synagogue at St. Petersburg Place, Bayswater (1878), and sole designer of the Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street (1869) and Dalston Synagogue (1885). Outside architecture Joseph was active in Jewish communal affairs, as behove a brother-in-law of the Chief Rabbi; he championed the cause of Sandys Row congre? gation in 1870 against Lionel L. Cohen in the battle of the little synagogues (Hebroth) against the big City synagogues that wished to absorb them, and was Chairman of the Russo-Jewish Committee concerned with immigration. Lewis Solomon f.r.i.b.a. (1848-1928) The career of Lewis Solomon could serve as a pattern for an ambitious young man. Public school and university, where his studies were crowned with an RIBA silver medal, were followed by travels in Italy. He was articled to Sir Digby Wyatt, learnt the practical side of building by acting as Clerk of Works on the India Office, St. James's Park and Ottoman Bank buildings before starting independent practice. In fifty years he designed a variety of domestic, industrial and commercial buildings and forged himself a reputation as a surveyor, arbitrator and expert witness. He interested himself in the affairs of his Institute, sat on the Council and numerous committees of the RIBA and gave much time to architectural education. His synagogues include Spital Square (1886) and Old Castle Street, Bethnal Green (1891), the New Hambro, Whitechapel (built 1899, seven years after the original Fenchurch Street synagogue was closed for demolition) and Stoke Newington (1903). Halsey Ricardo f.r.i.b.a. (1854-1928) I would not wish to leave this study of individuals without mentioning Halsey Ricardo. Although his family had left the community a generation before, and he himself worked away from the current of architectural opinion, his strikingly original work and ideals left their influence on English architecture of the 1880's-90's. His father, a nephew of David Ricardo the economist, was trained as an architect, but gave it up for family interests and took up banking instead. Halsey, like his contemporary, 1 Delissa Joseph F.R.I.B.A. (1858-1927). In many ways an interesting man, his speciality was putting florid hotels over the top of London tube stations and he rarely missed signing his buildings. He built a good many synagogues (Hampstead, Cardiff, Hammersmith, South Hackney, Finsbury Park, New Cross and Higher Broughton), flats, offices, was a great protagon? ist of high buildings under the London Building Acts and gave several papers to the R.I.B. A. on the subject. His talented wife was the sister of Solomon J. Solomon R.A., the painter who did valuable work on strategic camouflage in the Great War.</page><page sequence="17">ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS, AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES 139 Isaacs,1 was connected with railway work, and built Howrah Station, Calcutta. Iii London he is remembered for the remarkable house in Addison Road, Kensington, designed for Sir Ernest Debenham (and others in Melbury Road), in which he made original use of coloured and glazed bricks and tiles externally. Evolution of Synagogue Design During the latter half of the 19th century, the quantitative period of synagogue building in England, it is well to note the extent of the revolution that took place in design. We left the basilican plan and classic style firmly established in London, and followed in the provinces by coarser yet civilised Georgian buildings. Synagogues built during the Regency changed little and were stylistically in accord with English church and secular architecture of the time. Suddenly about 1860, synagogues began to burst out in styles called variously Moorish, Saracenic, Moresque, even (as a contemporary journal naively reports the Chatham Memorial Synagogue in 1870) "that of the Byzantine period, adapted to the requirements of the present age." Most of them were crawling with applied decoration. The classic style was not entirely dead, for Collins, after his saracenic treatment of Bryanston Street in 1861, could still produce 6-7 years later for the Borough New a Doric order and coffered ceiling, and for the North London a florid Italian facade. The assumption of these oriental trappings by communities of immigrants from Central Europe can, I think, be put down to two developments. The archaeological discoveries in Palestine from 1833 onwards may have acted on Jewish community pride in much the same way that the rediscovery of Greece affected the architecture of Gentle? men of Taste in the 18th century, and the realisation of their mediaeval heritage inspired church architects of the 19th century. Certainly the profusion of ornament shown in conjectural restorations of the ancient hebrew temples was very much in accord with the taste of the Victorians and must have been gratefully accepted by their architects as a fresh source of pattern. Secondly, the Gothic Revival was in full swing and there was probably a desire to make a synagogue appear different; whilst the Renaissance style so universally followed till now (because it was the architectural fashion) was admittedly pagan in its derivation, Gothic was too closely associated with Christianity for it to be adopted in Jewish synagogues. At the time of these stylistic changes, pressure on accommodation led to the building of larger synagogues. In 1870,1,000 seats were provided in the West London Synagogue, Berkeley Street at a cost of ?20,000 and in the new Central Synagogue, Great Portland Street for ?24,000. In the latter building the basilican plan, so successfully used for small, intimate synagogues, was stretched to further limits of vision and hearing and the 94' long nave soared to a height of 49'. Not unnaturally, fresh plan forms were due for consideration and at Berkeley Street the building was domed, square in plan, with 1 Lewis Henry Isaacs F.R. LB. A., AJ.C.E. (1830-1908) M.P. for Walworth, Mayor of Kensington and Master of the Paviours Company. Was Deputy Chairman of the District Railway, and architect of Holborn Viaduct station and hotel (1875), the City terminus of the London Chatham and Dover Railway from which the arcaded fronts of early London Underground stations derive. Appointed Surveyor to the Holborn Board of Works at the age of 26, he carried out many road-widening and public improvement schemes, and built the Library for the Hon. Socy. of Grays Inn. With his junior partner Henry Florence designed the Hotel Victoria, Northumberland Avenue, Holborn Town Hall, branches of the London Joint Stock Bank, Paddington Public Baths and many warehouses, factories, showrooms and private houses.</page><page sequence="18">140 ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS, AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES galleries on 3 sides ; Lauderdale Road, built by the same architects in 1896, follows this arrangement. These must be considered the precursors of the Greek Cross plans with stepped galleries and floors which early in the present century tended to replace the basilican plan, and led, with the introduction of liturgical changes, to the development of auditorium plans in American Reform synagogues. Jewish Patronage Having reviewed architecture of the community and of individual professional men working outside it, I come finally to the third field in which Jewish influence was exercised, that of private patronage. Unlike the synagogue-founders of the past, the Jewish magnate of this century could afford to employ the best-known men. The privilege of a few wealthy Jews, patronage in the 19th century was rather oddly seldom bestowed on Jewish architects. James Spiller of course practised before any Jewish architects of English birth and having built the Great Synagogue it is natural that he should in 1801 be designing a villa at Roehampton for Benjamin Goldsmid; about the same time "Moreton" was designed for Abraham Goldsmid by J. T. Groves, the official Clerk of Works for Whitehall and Westminster. But it is curious that John Davies1 the winning competitor for the New Synagogue in 1838 should previously have been commissioned by the Rothschilds to build their counting-house in the City at a time when Mocatta was available; even stranger that Sir Moses Montefiore should have employed Decimus Burton to add to East Cliff House, Ramsgate in 1831 in preference to his cousin Mocatta who built the Ramsgate Synagogue for him only two years later. Paxton, architect of the Crystal Palace, was commissioned in 1850 to build a vast Jacobean country house at Mentmore, Bucks, by Baron Meyer de Rothschild and it was barely off his hands when an even vaster mansion was being planned for Baron James de Rothschild at Ferrieres near Paris. At this truly royal mansion the Emperor Napoleon III of France was entertained with great ceremony in 1863. Violet Markham2 describes Paxton as the Rothschild family architect and refers to further work for them at Geneva and in the Bois de Boulogne. During the 1850's Mortimer Ricardo had Kiddington Hall, Oxon, remodelled by Sir Charles Barry, whilst J. B. Watson added to Ray Mead, Berks for Albert Ricardo. Decimus Burton?famed for his Athenaeum Club?seems to have been favoured by Jews and counted among his clients not only Sir Moses Montefiore but also David Salomons (houses at Broomhill, Kent and Burswood, near Tunbridge Wells in the 1830's), Mrs. Montefiore (additions to Worth Park, Sussex 1833) and Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid (alterations to St. John's Lodge, Regents Park 1830 and Furze Hill Villa, Brighton 1833). Goldsmid later commissioned Sir Charles Barry to extend St. John's Lodge by adding wings in 1847. There were town houses3 as well as country houses, offices in the City, buildings such as the Jews Hospital, Lower Norwood (designed by Tillott and Chamberlain in 1862) and the Manchester Hebrew School of 1850 (de? signed by J. E. Gregan), even occasional curios like the Sassoon Mausoleum, Brighton, where the Jewish client's wishes were carried into effect. Among architectural advisers to the community were P. C. Hardwick, who in 1867 assessed the Upper Berkeley Street synagogue competition, and Frederick Lett who Designed educational, commercial and ecclesiastical buildings and several country houses, one of which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1835 by S. Gompertz. 2 Paxton and the Bachelor Duke (1935). 3 Such as the house in Kensington Gore, now the Yugoslav Embassy, which the Hon. Godfre y Samuel informs me his grandfather commissioned from Saml. W. Dawkes, architect of Colne y Hatch. In Piccadilly and Park Lane several mansions were built or altered for wealthy Jews.</page><page sequence="19">Plate 5 New West End Synagogue, St. Petersburg Place Audsley and Joseph, Architects Central Synagogue Gt. Portland Street, N. S. Joseph, Architect</page><page sequence="20">ANGLO-JEWISH ARCHITECTS, AND ARCHITECTURE IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES 141 acted in a similar capacity for the Upper Bryanston Street synagogue committee in 1859. John Wallen, a pupil of Daniel Asher Alexander (despite his name, not a Jew), repaired the 'Great' in 1852; J. D. Hayton, as surveyor to the Western Synagogue, St. Alban's Place carried out a notable renovation in "quiet good taste" in 1870 and H. Masters similarly renovated and decorated Bristol synagogue in 1879. Harry Smith "restored" the old Portsea synagogue in 1890, unfortunately in the spirit of a Victorian improver. Although an increasing number of competent Jewish architects appeared from the middle of the 19th century onwards, for the design of religious buildings the Jewish community continued to commission non-Jews, particularly in the provinces. Among their buildings were the domed synagogues of 1855 in Great Portland Street, London (Clarke) and 1856 in Hope Place, Liverpool (Thomas Wylie), Sheffield New Synagogue of 1872 (Mitchell-Withers)?something of a rarity, with its early Gothic open timbered roof and pitch pine joinery, Middlesbrough 1874 (Edward Tidman), Brighton New 1875 (Thomas Lainson), Garnethill, Glasgow 1880 (John M'Leod), Leeds New, Belgrave Street, 1878 (Kay)?also in the Gothic style, Newcastle-on-Tyne 1879 (John Johnstone), Cheetham, Manchester 1889 (W. Sharp Ogden), Nottingham 1890 (W. H. Radford), and New Briggate, Leeds 1894 (W. A. Hobson). Pontypridd 1895 (Lloyd) is another rare excursion into Gothic. Leeds Central (1897, by Alfred Bentley), Leicester 1897 (A. Wakerley), Edinburgh 1898 (W. N. Thomson),1 Reading 1900 (W. G. Lewton) and South Portland Street, Glasgow 1901 (J. Chalmers) bring to a close this half-century of depressing synagogue architecture. Messrs. W. and G. Audsley who built the stately and ornate Princes Road synagogue in Liverpool at a cost of ?15,000, went on to design the New West End in St. Petersburg Place, Bayswater,?a building that owes much to Princes Road?in collaboration with N. S. Joseph. Other collaborators were Fripp, who designed Bristol synagogue with Collins in 1870, and Pearson, joint architect of the Jews' Free School with N. S. Joseph. Conclusion I have come to the end of this broad survey, leaving many gaps showing where further study is needed, leaving many problems unsolved. I conclude by posing just one. The Jewish Chronicle recently called for an advisory committee on synagogue design; indeed, although this is not a thesis on synagogues, I hope my paper has indicated that the 19th century left behind a crop of planning problems and the great enigma of proper architectural expression. If there be such a thing as a Jewish style in architecture, then it should appear in a religious building. I cannot believe that it is to be found in the Oriental fancy dress of Victorian England. Nor is the incorporation of a religious symbol or two?a Shield of David or a Candelabrum instead of a cross?sufficient to produce significant architecture in our day. The first half of the 20th century has been a period of considerable building activity and yet, in England, it has been productive mostly of non-committal synagogue design that has little spiritual inspiration, of dull buildings lacking a true understanding of tradition and development. Judged as architecture these are the products of minds poor in imagination. Perhaps the younger communities of the U.S.A. and Israel may show a bolder approach to the problem of building fine architecture for an ancient religion, in a manner which we can recognise as being true to our time. 1 This was an adaptation of the Greyfriars Free Church. A similar conversion took place in London, when West Hampstead Congregational Church, Finchley Road (built 1895 by Spalding and Cross) became a synagogue.</page><page sequence="21">Plate 6 Jews' Hospital, Lower Norwood</page></plain_text>