Paddington: Judaism

Pages 264-265

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, Hampstead, Paddington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.

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In the 19th century prosperous Jewish communities grew up as building spread along Bayswater Road and later northward to Maida Vale. Bayswater synagogue, on the northern edge of the district and perhaps more accurately described as in Westbourne Park, was established because of a drift of Jews from Bloomsbury and the City. (fn. 1) In Maida Vale the Anglican church of St. Saviour, Warwick Avenue, although in a rich area, was said to be poor because so many residents were Jews. (fn. 2) Jewish prominence perhaps owed more to wealth than to numbers: fewer than Roman Catholics and each of the three leading protestant nonconformist sects, Jews accounted for 422 church attendances in 1886 (fn. 3) and for 1,826 out of a total of 31,331 attendances in 1902. (fn. 4) There were three synagogues and several other Jewish institutions in Paddington in 1986. (fn. 5)

Bayswater synagogue, at the west corner of Chichester Place and Harrow Road, was consecrated in 1863. It was built with grants from London's Great and New synagogues, whose joint management committee made way in 1866 for a local committee, and the first seat holders included the banker Samuel Montagu, later Lord Swaythling (1832- 1911), and members of the Rothschild family. In 1870 Bayswater joined the Great, New, Hambro, and Central synagogues to form the United Synagogue. The building, designed in red brick in the Gothic style by N. S. Joseph, originally held 341, with a further 334 in the ladies' gallery, but the seating was soon extended. Some of the richest members, from Tyburnia, transferred to the New West End synagogue after 1879, with the result that by 1890 more than half of those attending Bayswater synagogue came from Maida Vale. Although numbers had fallen by the time that the site was taken for the Harrow Road flyover, litigation compelled the United Synagogue to promise to rebuild on land provided by the G.L.C. (fn. 6) From c. 1965 services were held in the hall of the Lauderdale Road synagogue (fn. 7) until a flat-roofed building in contemporary style was erected in 1971-2 in Kilburn Park Road. (fn. 8) As Bayswater and Maida Vale synagogue, the congregation remained a constituent of the United Synagogue in 1981. (fn. 9) The premises were later bought for the new Jewish Preparatory School, although high holy day services were still held there in 1986. (fn. 10)

The New West End synagogue, St. Petersburgh Place, was an offshoot of Bayswater synagogue and consecrated in 1879. (fn. 11) Designed by Audesley & Joseph (fn. 12) as an imposing building of red brick with terracotta decorations, seating 800, it had an ornate west doorway flanked by twin bell-towers with copper domes. From 1957 it adjoined the Herbert Samuel centre in Orme Lane, which included a small synagogue used for children's services. The congregation, drawn from Tyburniz and its westward extension beyond Lancaster Gate, was the richest of all those belonging to the United Synagogue before 1914. (fn. 13) In 1964 the New West End synagogue challenged the authority of the United Synagogue in a vain attempt to secure a liberal scholar, Dr. Louis Jacobs, as minister. After the board of management had been forced to resign, seceders formed the New London synagogue, which held its first service in Lauderdale Road and by 1970 had secured premises in Abbey Road, St. John's Wood. (fn. 14)

A Spanish and Portuguese synagogue was registered in 1896, (fn. 15) land at the north-east corner of Lauderdale and Ashworth roads having been leased from the Paddington Estate in 1895. (fn. 16) The building, next to a Jewish orphanage, was designed by Davis & Emanuel in red brick and white stone, with a shallow central dome and a cupola. (fn. 17) It remained a Sephardi synagogue in 1981, when the Sephardi Burial Society and Welfare Board, the Sephardi Kashrut Authority, and a religious library were at no. 2 Ashworth Road. (fn. 18)

Maida Hill Beth Hamedrash was registered on the ground floor of no. 131 Elgin Avenue in 1944. (fn. 19) Affiliated to the Federation of Synagogues in 1945, it was admitted as a constituent synagogue in 1948 and was known as Emet V' Shalom synagogue from 1949. The original premises, after internal alterations, seated 130 in 1982. (fn. 20)


  • 1. Jewish Hist. Soc. Trans. xxi. 82; C. Roth, Bayswater Syn. (1938), 4.
  • 2. Marylebone libr., P 131.1, cuttings.
  • 3. Brit. Weekly, 26 Nov. 1886, p. 16.
  • 4. Mudie-Smith, Rel. Life, 103.
  • 5. Jewish Year Bk. (1986); P.O. Dir. Lond. (1986).
  • 6. Roth, Bayswater Syn. 4-7; A. Newman, United Syn. (1976), 169-70; Jewish Hist. Soc. Trans. xxi. 84.
  • 7. Marylebone libr., P 131.1, cuttings (Chichester PI. syn.).
  • 8. Ibid.; datestone; G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 73191.
  • 9. Jewish Year Bk. (1981).
  • 10. Inf. from Rabbi Dr. Abraham Levy; below, educ., private.
  • 11. Roth, Bayswater Syn. 11. Rest of para. based on inf. from Mr. Raphael Levy.
  • 12. Pevsner, Lond. ii. 302.
  • 13. Jewish Hist. Soc. Trans. xxi. 84.
  • 14. Newman, United Syn. 184-7; The Times, 24 Apr. 1964, 12d; 4 May 1964, 14e, 15b; 11 May 1964, 9a; P.O. Dir. Lond. (1970).
  • 15. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 35716.
  • 16. Ch. Com., Bldg. Agreements, vol. x.
  • 17. Marylebone libr., P 131.1, cuttings.
  • 18. Jewish Year Bk. (1981).
  • 19. G.R.O. Worship Reg. no. 60876.
  • 20. Inf. from sec., Federation of Synagogues.