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Brick Lane Jamme Masjid (Former Neuve Eglise)

A Grade II* Listed Building in Spitalfields & Banglatown, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5194 / 51°31'9"N

Longitude: -0.0721 / 0°4'19"W

OS Eastings: 533861

OS Northings: 181815

OS Grid: TQ338818

Mapcode National: GBR W9.YH

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.P2RK

Entry Name: Brick Lane Jamme Masjid (Former Neuve Eglise)

Listing Date: 29 December 1950

Last Amended: 5 May 2010

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1240697

English Heritage Legacy ID: 205992

Location: Tower Hamlets, London, E1

County: London

District: Tower Hamlets

Electoral Ward/Division: Spitalfields & Banglatown

Built-Up Area: Tower Hamlets

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Christ Church Spitalfields

Church of England Diocese: London

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Listing Text


788/14/357 BRICK LANE
29-DEC-50 (West side)
BRICK LANE JAMME MASJID (former Neuve Eglise)

(Formerly listed as:
FOURNIER STREET E1
GREAT SYNAGOGUE)
(Formerly listed as:
BRICK LANE E1
GREAT SYNAGOGUE)
(Formerly listed as:
FOURNIER STREET
BRICK LANE JAMME MASJID)
(Formerly listed as:
BRICK LANE
BRICK LANE JAMME MASJID)

GV II*

Includes: BRICK LANE JAMME MASJID, FOURNIER STREET
French protestant chapel, 1743-4, converted into a synagogue in 1897 and into a mosque in 1976, with further internal alterations in 1986. Probably designed by Thomas Stibbs; 1897 alterations by Messrs Maples; minaret-like structure added in 2009 by DGA Architects.

MATERIALS: Stock brick with stone plinth and dressings; Welsh slate roof.

EXTERIOR: The two-storied south elevation to Fournier Street is of six bays, with a slightly projecting four-bay centrepiece under a broad triangular pediment; the latter contains a sundial with the date 1743 and the Horatian motto 'UMBRA SUMUS' ('we are but shadow'). On the ground floor are two round-headed doorways with double-leaf eight-panelled doors; their pilastered stone surrounds having projecting impost blocks, keystones and architraves. The windows, segment-headed on the ground floor and round-headed above, have keystones, bracketed cills and multi-pane glazing with fixed glazing bars. The east elevation to Brick Lane is of three bays, under a pediment containing a small circular window. The fenestration is similar to that on the south elevation, save that a Venetian window with Ionic pilasters occupies the central two bays on the first floor. The middle two ground floor windows have been blocked up. The roof structure, altered in 1897, comprises a slated mansard set back behind a parapet, with a series of lead-covered dormers and a long timber-and-glass skylight on the main ridge. From an artificial stone base at the corner of the site rises a tubular steel structure, approximately 29 metres tall, its form intended to recall that of a minaret; it was added in 2009 and (at the time of the present evaluation in 2010) is too recent to be of special interest.

INTERIOR: The pre-1897 chapel interior was a single large hall, entered via the two south doorways from Fournier Street, with timber galleries in the form of Doric colonnades to the east, north and west facing a pulpit and reredos set against the south wall. The synagogue conversion involved the removal of part of the east gallery to make room for a raised bimah (dais) and ark in the centre of the east wall. These timber fittings were nearly all removed in the 1986 remodelling, which created a two-level worship space with an eight-sided lightwell towards the eastern end and a marble mihrab (a niche indicating the direction of prayer) in the south-eastern corner; retained features include six timber columns and two pedimented doorcases. The main entrance is now from the north, via No. 59 Brick Lane; the two south doors connect with enclosed staircases leading to the upper hall, and with a corridor that runs round the back of the worship space into the courtyard behind. Below are three barrel-vaulted cellars, once used for storage and now converted into prayer rooms and an ablution area. Above, in the 1897 attic structure, are several classrooms opening onto a skylit central corridor. A number of stone tablets with Hebrew inscriptions survive here from the synagogue period.

HISTORY: The building now known as the Brick Lane Jamme Masjid was built in 1743-4 as the Neuve Eglise, a French Protestant chapel serving the Huguenot community then dominant in the Spitalfields silk-weaving industry. It was an offshoot of the much older French church in Threadneedle Street in the City of London, and was probably built by the latter's surveyor Thomas Stibbs. The building's later history reflects the changing ethnic and religious character of this part of east London. In the early years of the C19, Jewish immigration to the area prompted the Society for Propagating Christianity among the Jews, an evangelical group founded by the Jewish-born convert Joseph Frey, to lease the building as its headquarters. In 1819 the chapel passed to the Wesleyan Methodists, but reverted to its earlier missionary use later in the century. In 1897 it was acquired by a Lithuanian Orthodox Jewish group known as the Mahzikei Hadas ('Strengtheners of the Faith'), and converted by the Maples firm to become the Spitalfields Great Synagogue, with a Torah school accommodated within the remodelled attic space. In the second half of the C20 the Jewish population dispersed to the suburbs, making way for a new wave of Muslim immigrants from eastern India and Bangladesh; the synagogue fell into disuse for a time before becoming a mosque in 1976. In 1986 the remaining internal galleries were removed and the interior remodelled. At the end of 2009 a freestanding minaret-like structure designed by DGA Architects was added to the building's Brick Lane frontage.

Adjoining the main building at No. 59 Brick Lane is a three-storey brick house, built along with the chapel in 1743 and originally serving as its vestry and school. This building, now part of the mosque complex, is listed separately at Grade II.

SOURCES: Cherry, B, O'Brien, C and Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England - London 5: East (2005).
Kaddish, S, Jewish Heritage in England: An Architectural Guide (2006).

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The Brick Lane Jamme Masjid, built as a Huguenot chapel in 1743-4, converted into a synagogue in 1897 and into a mosque in 1976, with further alterations in 1986, is listed for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural: a handsome and externally intact example of mid-C18 chapel design
* Group value: close architectural and historic association with the Grade II listed former school and vestry building at No. 59 Brick Lane
* Historical: a rare surviving instance of a Huguenot chapel, located at the centre of London's principal C18 silk-weaving district
* Sequence of uses: a uniquely complex instance of the 'recycling' of a place of worship, its succession of religious uses encapsulating the rich migration history of East London

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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