All ship-shape and Bristol fashion as shul gets listed status

The impressive interior of the Park Row synagogue

The impressive interior of the Park Row synagogue

Bristol’s Park Row Synagogue has been awarded Grade II listed status.

Explaining its decision, English Heritage cited its rarity as “a surviving example of a Victorian synagogue that is still in its original use”. It showcased “a confident Italianate design by a pre-eminent Victorian Jewish architect” and the “high quality interior is a very good example of its type and includes re-used items from earlier synagogues in Bristol”.

In addition, the building “illustrates the rich Jewish heritage in Bristol and the south-west of England”.
Built in the 1870s, Park Row is one of three surviving English synagogues designed by Hyman Henry Collins — the others are the Chatham Memorial and the New London in St John’s Wood.

The Bristol building was a collaboration with a relatively little known local architect, S C Fripp.
Its design had to take account of the confined and steep site. Local stone was used in the construction and many of the distinctive fixtures and fittings are thought to come from the preceding Bristol Synagogue in Temple Street.

Park Row’s Alex Schlesinger said the granting of listed status meant that the shul would be considered with the Plymouth, Exeter and Cheltenham buildings “and the now disused synagogue at Falmouth as historic buildings of importance nationally.

“In addition, the listing settles the future of the building that has been compromised by the adjacent Bristol University’s intention — first stated as long ago as 1955 — to acquire the shul site for expansion.”
The community has 60 members.

    Last updated: 10:19am, June 15 2012