Hornsey, including Highgate: Judaism

Page 189

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 6, Friern Barnet, Finchley, Hornsey With Highgate. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.

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Defoe found Highgate a favourite retreat of wealthy Jews, who lived there 'in good figure', served by their own butchers and other tradesmen. He also heard that there was a private synagogue, (fn. 1) which presumably was part of a house. Jewish residents, such as the Da Costas, (fn. 2) probably led Hyman Hurwitz to open his school by 1802. (fn. 3) A synagogue adjoined Hurwitz's buildings (fn. 4) but did not survive the school's closure. (fn. 5)

Public worship was confined to neighbouring parishes until a temporary building was opened by Hornsey and Wood Green affiliated synagogue in 1920. A new building on the same site in Wightman Road, seating c. 200, was founded in 1958 and opened in 1959. (fn. 6) In 1976 the congregation remained a local synagogue, affiliated to the United Synagogue in Upper Woburn Place, St. Pancras. (fn. 7)

Highgate district synagogue, so called from 1947, (fn. 8) originated in a community which bought no. 88 Archway Road in 1929. A synagogue for c. 400 was opened in 1937 (fn. 9) but superseded by no. 200, on the corner of Wembury Road, in 1950. The building, a converted Baptist chapel partly refaced with yellow bricks, was damaged by fire in 1975. (fn. 10) Services thereafter were held in a room attached to St. Augustine's church and in the former Congregational church in South Grove, while new premises were sought.

Muswell Hill Jews at first worshipped in hired halls and a house in Methuen Park. (fn. 11) In 1946 they registered a hall on the ground floor of the Athenaeum (fn. 12) and in 1962 they bought a site at no. 31 Tetherdown, for a synagogue to hold 500. The congregation formed a district synagogue of the United Synagogue by 1962 (fn. 13) and a constituent synagogue from 1976. (fn. 14)


  • 1. D. Defoe, Tour through Eng. and Wales (Everyman edn. 1928), ii. 3.
  • 2. Trans. Jewish Hist. Soc. xxi. 80; see above, p. 135.
  • 3. See p. 197.
  • 4. Brewer, Beauties of Eng. and Wales, x(5), 216.
  • 5. Howitt, Northern Heights, 398.
  • 6. Hornsey Jnl. 20 June 1958; 15 May 1959.
  • 7. Ex inf. the hon. sec.
  • 8. Except where otherwise stated, the para. is based on information from the rabbi.
  • 9. The Times, 23 Aug. 1937.
  • 10. Ibid. 31 Oct. 1975.
  • 11. Ex inf. the sec.
  • 12. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 61365.
  • 13. Hornsey Jnl. 28 Sept. 1962.
  • 14. Ex inf. the sec.