Gloucester: Judaism and Islam

Page 335

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 4, the City of Gloucester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1988.

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JUDAISM. (fn. 1)

An account of the medieval Jewry is given above. (fn. 2) Jews reappeared in Gloucester shortly before 1764. (fn. 3) They traded as jewellers and silversmiths, some throughout the county and beyond, and as shopkeepers, and in the early 19th century dominated pawnbroking in the city. (fn. 4) By 1792 the Jewish community had a synagogue in Barton Street nearly opposite the Unitarian chapel (fn. 5) and by 1802 had moved it (fn. 6) to a room in Mercy Place, opposite the infirmary in lower Southgate Street. (fn. 7) From the mid 19th century the community declined, a fact ascribed to an influx of Quakers with superior business ability. (fn. 8) The synagogue may have remained open until the early 1850s (fn. 9), but by the mid 1850s Gloucester Jews attended the Cheltenham synagogue. (fn. 10) Amelia Abrahams, the last member of the community, died in 1886, (fn. 11) and the pawnbroker Samuel Goldberg traded in the city until the end of the century. (fn. 12)

By 1785 the Jews had a cemetery to the north of Barton Street, which also served Jewry in Stroud and Ross-on-Wye (Herefs.) and was apparently not used after 1887. In 1938 it was laid out as a playground for St. Michael's school in Russell Street and the remains and monuments were removed to the new municipal cemetery at Coney Hill. (fn. 13)


The Muslim community in Gloucester dates from the late 1950s and the Gloucester Muslim Welfare Association, which had been formed by 1965, converted two houses in Ryecroft Street as a prayer hall or mosque, (fn. 14) registered for worship in 1968. (fn. 15) The Muslim community in the Barton Street area grew during the following years and in 1981 the association demolished the two houses and began a larger mosque on the site. The new mosque, designed by Brian Tait, a local architect, (fn. 16) had a dome and minaret and opened in 1983.

From the later 1970s the Gloucestershire Islamic Trust, formed to serve the needs of a separate group of Muslims, held services in a warehouse in All Saints Road. (fn. 17) In 1985 the building was demolished and replaced by a mosque.


  • 1. This article on Judaism and Islam was written in 1982 and revised in 1986.
  • 2. Medieval Glouc., Glouc. 1066–1327.
  • 3. Glouc. Jnl. 26 Mar. 1764.
  • 4. G.D.R., B 4/1/1147; Glouc. New Guide (1802), 145, 156–7; Gell and Bradshaw, Glos. Dir. (1820), 61, 78, 81; Glos. N. & Q. iv. 163–4; Jewish Monthly, ii. 473.
  • 5. Glouc. Guide (1792), 77.
  • 6. Glouc. New Guide (1802), 79.
  • 7. Glouc. Jnl. 3 Mar. 1823; Glos. N. & Q. iv. 163.
  • 8. Jewish Monthly, ii. 474; Glos. N. & Q. iv. 164.
  • 9. Cf. Slater's Dir. Glos. (1852–3), 127.
  • 10. Glos. R.O., D 3883/1/7; 2/2.
  • 11. Glos. N. & Q. iv. 163.
  • 12. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1885–1902 edns.).
  • 13. Glos. N. & Q. iv. 385–7; Glos. R. O., NC 66.
  • 14. Citizen, 29 June 1965.
  • 15. G.R.O. (General Register Office), Worship Reg. no. 71508.
  • 16. Citizen, 23 Sept., 8 Dec. 1981.
  • 17. Ibid. 19 Sept. 1981.