Exeter Synagogue, the third oldest synagogue in the UK, has launched a £125,000 fundraising drive to restore its crumbling building ahead of its 250th anniversary celebrations this summer.
The Grade II listed Georgian building — used regularly by Exeter Hebrew Congregation — has serious damp in two exterior walls and needs its roof replaced due to both its age and the damage it suffered in the bombing of Exeter during the Second World War.
Synagogue treasurer Richard Yoffey said that although fundraising was going well, renovation work had thrown up a few surprises.
“During the excavation to investigate the damp, we discovered that one of the party walls was Tudor, even older than we thought. The Lord Mayor was so interested he came to have a look.”
The 120-member community has been helping with the anniversary fundraising effort in innovative ways, from a sponsored diet to a ceilidh.
“In only three weeks we have raised £16,000,” Mr Yoffey said.
As part of the anniversary celebrations in June, the synagogue plans to hold a service just as it was held when the structure was first built in 1763, when King George III was on the throne.
The Exeter congregation is independent and provides services and Jewish education to a membership drawn from Devon, Somerset and Dorset.